I knew I had the responsibility of delivering the “Children’s Time” lesson in May, and I always try to put a lot of thought into the message. I try to make it extremely relevant to the children. Everytime I looked at a magazine in the checkout lane in the grocery store, or got lost looking around the internet, or watched TV, I saw all these people, and a great number of celebrities, wearing diamond encrusted necklaces with crosses. There is great incongruity in wearing a giant cross around your neck while you’re trolling for sex at the Jersey Shore. I kept asking myself, ‘When did Jesus become a fashion accessory?” I decided to make a point. I was going to wear a bunch of the “Christian” accessories people wear and ask the children if they made me a better Christian because I have them on. I acquired a “What Would Jesus Do?” bracelet. I already have a pectoral cross. So I just needed the Pièce de résistance. I did some browsing via web, and found it: the Iced Out Christ.
(Image courtesy of theblingfactory.com)
Thank goodness for eBay. With a few clicks and surprisingly small amount of money, I had the perfect teaching aid. He came all the way from New York City. I was pleased to see that this Jesus necklace was even more gaudy in person, and very heavy. Good thing my purchase included a heavy duty 36″ massive chain upon which to hang him. It would be perfect for the children to understand that shiny does not equate with holy. So my Iced Out Christ was hidden away in my desk drawer until Communion Sunday, awaiting his big reveal. I would occasionally sneak a peak at him when no one was around. He is quite a sight.
Then came his big day and I put him in the pocket of my robe and proceeded to the sanctuary. When all the children had gathered around for “Children’s Time,” I told them that I had done a lot of praying and I had a big announcement to make. I had come to the decision that I wanted to be a Christian. This elicited a few laughs from the children and the congregation. I stood up, turned around and put my necklace on. When I turned around and said, “I did it,” I could see that this was not what anyone had expected. “Doesn’t this make me a better Christian?” I asked. They weren’t sure what to say. I asked if they knew who was on my necklace. Despite young David’s cry that it was a caveman, the rest knew it was Jesus. “He’s so shiny and awesome,” I informed them, “So this makes me a good Christian, right?” “No,” they replied. So I showed them my WWJD bracelet. “Does this make me a good Christian?” They knew better there, too. A couple got a little snagged on my cross. One little girl suggested that if it had cost me “like $100, then yes.” I told them that God didn’t care what we wore, or how shiny our jewelry was, that wasn’t the point. We are supposed to wear Jesus in our hearts and be good Christians, not just look the part.
After worship, everyone who came by to shake my hand and greet me wanted to see Jesus up close. I was surprised by the positive reception he got. Many people really liked him, especially when he was outside sparkling in the sun. Who doesn’t love a sparkly Jesus? When I got back to my office, I almost didn’t want to put him away. This isn’t a sad image of Christ; he’s gloriously triumphant and I dubbed him “The Resurrected Christ.” He’s not nailed to the cross. He’s risen from the grave and back! His arms are open wide and calling us to deeper, more meaningful relationship. He really is sparkly, which will win me over every time. Best of all, he’s a conversation starter. He inspired laughs and stories, and good natured ribbing. All the things I imagine the disciples did on their down time while they were traipsing all over Israel following Jesus. So, for now, Iced Out Christ is back in the drawer, tucked away until the next time I need him for a teaching moment. But I don’t want to leave him there, and I didn’t expect that. He’s not something I ever thought I would have genuinely wanted, but I am very glad he’s here. I imagine that Jesus was pretty awesome looking when he ascending into Heaven, maybe he did sparkle in the sun. When I look at my necklace and smile, I think about all the good Jesus did, all that he is doing right now, and all that he will continue to do through his followers. Just maybe I learned even more than the children did. Not what I expected.