One of our best friends got ordained as an Anglican priest a few years ago. So we drove out there to the ceremony. It was held in the big beautiful Anglican Cathedral in London Ontario. While it was a service designed with much tradition and symbolism in a very ornate building, and even though he is one of my best friends in the world, I found myself completely distracted.
There was a sculpture right in front of where I was sitting that, despite all of the pomp and circumstance around me, completely captured my attention. It was a larger than life portrayal of Jesus being murdered on a cross. He was bleeding from his hands, feet, side and head, and was almost completely naked except for the loincloth around his mid-section.
And that was what caught my eye. There was kind of a bulge in the loincloth, for lack of any better way to describe it, where Jesus’ penis would have been. I was struck by this far more than I perhaps should have been. The sculptor clearly intentionally spent time ensuring that this was part of the piece. He or she wanted to make sure that Jesus was very much portrayed as a real human being with all of the human parts and vulnerability that goes with that.
I remembered this last Sunday because it was 8 days after we celebrated Christmas, Jesus’ birthday. On the 8th day after He was born He was circumcised, as all Jewish boys are. Jesus was a baby; completely dependent on His parents for survival, drank His mother’s milk, and was circumcised according to tradition and law.
So there I was, while my good friend was being ordained, only vaguely aware of all that was happening around me while I just stared at Jesus’ crotch. Yes, I know I’m a strange dude. (I’m fairly regularly reminded of that by my friends and family:) But I guess it just really sunk in that this man, this first century Palestinian Jew that I claim to worship, was in fact a real guy.
He had to pee and poop, just like the rest of us.
He experienced joy and pain, just like the rest of us.
He was vulnerable, just like the rest of us.
The difference is, He was not only fully human but He was also fully God.
I’m pretty sure that it’ll take me the rest of my life to try and figure that out.
In the meantime I’ll just keep trying to follow the example He left for us.
I’ve run out of space so more next time on the Magi…