I have long been fascinated by what Jesus looked like at the time he walked the dusty paths of Nazareth. I noticed early and often that the images of Jesus I encountered in the painting in the Sunday School classroom, in the stained-glass window in the sanctuary (pictured), and the small one in a book in my grandmother’s house looked nothing at all like one another. I remember talking with my mom about it. She was a painter, among other things and had studied classical art. It was with her I first began to page through the books that showed Jesus here and there and everywhere over time and over the planet.
People have been creating images of Jesus for the better part of 2,000 years. We like to remember the passage in Genesis that says humankind is created in the image of God. That is a powerful calling! By it, we are reminded to be as large minded and large hearted and creative as our Source, nudged in the direction of sacred living. Meanwhile, it is important to remember that we may be turning things inside out as we continue to create God, and certainly Jesus, in our own image; a much diminished situation. Often our images of Jesus say more about who WE are than who JESUS was/is. It is essential that in order to find a sustainable justice going forward, we wrap our heads around the truth that there are many kinds of sacred that don’t look much like us, in fact look significantly different.
Which of these images stirs you? Either? One is based on forensic evidence, historically, geographically, genetically, Jesus likely looked very much like the first image (by Brazilian graphic artist Cícero Moraes, specialist in forensic facial reconstruction). One represents the living, ongoing, ever changing, always moving body of Christ as followers collected and impacting each other and the world. You can go here to see the montage up close: https://www.picturemosaics.com/photomosaics/id/38
We are creating our own montage, collage, image of who we are and what we stand for, as well. When each of us declares ourselves, and we do that as a community, we see a collective that has identity both made of, and more than, the sum of its parts.
Together, we are creating in our own, unique way, an image of Jesus alive in us, in this time, in our world!