Lotus of the Heart > Path of Spirit > Jesus and Contemplative Spirituality


Still a Jesus Guy

A Transformed Love

Apr 25, 2016


All is Welcome Here

Living in Love beyond Beliefs


The faith we Christians claim has been so dented and chipped and discolored by the centuries, so institutionalized and codified and doctrinalized, so written upon and then so overwritten into palimpsest, that there are few Christians who still can discern the contours of the original. There are fewer still who know, and can persuasively teach, that Christianity was only and always just the container, the wrapping paper being used in the shipment through the centuries of time. It is the Jesus beyond dent or chip or discoloring that is the beauty. It is the Jesus beyond the doctrine and the clashing commentary that is the beauty.

*Phyllis Tickle. "Foreword." Ken Wilson. Jesus Brand Spirituality: He Wants His Religion Back.

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A very interesting thing happened to me that Sunday morning several years ago, during my last position as a pastor. The "preacher" became the "singer." I had not sung a solo in any public setting since a mid-teenager - and I sing to patients now as a Chaplain, but with some concern it might not at times bring comfort the way I hope - but the intent is pure. See, I came from a singing family-history, but I never claimed to have been blessed with the gift.

I have had two poems set to music. My paternal grandfather, Tommie, had one of my poems put to music: he was a music teacher and published many hymns. Caim put music to one of my poems, one from my book An Ache for Union. The poem is "Words of Love," and it appears on Caim's CD CAIM - Into the Present Moment. The poem is short, the song brief, the tune lovely, and could be used for a meditative piece.

Anyway, back to that Sunday in South Florida. As a favor to our dear, retiring music director, Charlotte, I - after weeks of prayer - agreed to sing for her a solo in our Sunday service. She asked me to, and I told her I would consider it in prayer for two weeks. Two weeks turned into more, for I did not feel confidant about the public singing opportunity. Opportunity seemed more like possible disaster and public embarrassment. To calm my concerns, she told me "just" to sing for her like she was my grandmother.

After weeks I told Charlotte, "Okay ...." She told me it would be okay for me not to. I told her I would anyway. She smiled. And, like I told the congregation that Sunday, in making sure they knew this was a leap of faith and love, "Charlotte told me just to sing it to her like she was my grandmother." I made sure they knew this was not my domain of giftedness. I urged them to listen to the song as my prayer.

The hymn I had chosen, I did for it keep coming to mind and lips around the house. I found myself singing "Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross" at sundry times. The song is from my childhood and was not one of the more suited for my voice, but the song was resonating with my heart. So, on a Thursday evening, as I recall, I was in the sanctuary singing the hymn to a home-spun tune. Alright, I had not told you that this was going to be without musical accompaniment - truly solo, alone.

Sunday morning arrived. I stood behind the Communion Table and announced the song. I sang the stanzas, and I concluded with the first verse of another old hymn, "Tis' So Sweet to Trust in Jesus." The congregation gave an ovation, and persons wanted me to sing a solo again and join the choir, too. Neither happened.

That Sunday solo was one of the more beautiful moments of my church experience, which means since my mom would lay her little toddler Brian on that hard-wood bench at Philadelphia Missionary Baptist Church, in Georgia, while the congregants worshiped.

Possibly, however, the most important and memorable aspect of the solo for me, and more edifying for others, was to see their spiritual leader in tears and talking about his life-long love of Jesus. The night before I heard a woman say that she discovered she was a "Jesus gal." I realized, "Yes, that is I, just a 'Jesus guy.'" No matter the struggles I have had with faith - and there have been many - and the church - and there have been many -, I am simply a Jesus guy - in love with Jesus and no need to figure it out or fight it. Now, my understanding of Jesus has been transformed over time, but this is not a time for sharing that ... maybe later.

Well, there I stood, and shared that little vignette of witness before the song. "I realized I am a 'Jesus boy,' was raised that way and will die that way." They smiled; I began singing.

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I do not think loving Jesus means a person has to be a religious zealot, a moralistic maniac, a sectarian snout, or a doctrinaire anti-all-else. Through giving myself to Him - an outflow of the "Yes" to Him and baptism in His name -, I have come to know Jesus differently, more beautifully. I do not regret the Journey, and I recall with gladness the night I walked to the front of a little country church building and said "Yes" to Him, and the dark, quiet waters, where I was plunged into baptism in His name and Grace, while the congregation stood reverently, quietly rejoicing on the banks of the trout pond of my late Uncle Edward.

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Sound of Silence

*Move cursor over pictures for photographer and title. Lotus of the Heart is given by a Hospice Chaplain, who offers this Work to encourage in a spiritual, inclusive life to embody and encourage peace among all, as each is an expression of one Grace, a single, sacred Life.


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