Sermons

Summary: How do you picture Jesus??

Re-Imagining Jesus

Mark 6:1-6 Jan 4, 2008

Intro:

Over the holidays I watched a movie on TV called “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby”. It’s a cheesy comedy starring Will Farrell, and although it had a few good moments I don’t recommend it. There was one scene which I want to describe to you. Now, I would generally just show the video clip but it contains a few mild cuss words which I know some of you would find offensive, and rather than offend some of you and have you tune out the rest of the message I’ll just describe the scene and read the dialogue with some brief edits.

The star, “Ricky Bobby”, is a Nascar race driver who at this point in the film is at the top of the race world, winning and raking in money. He has just sat down to dinner with his wife, two kids, best friend, and father in law. And before they eat, Ricky begins to say grace.

Ricky Bobby: Dear Lord Baby Jesus, or, as our brothers in the South call you: Jesús, we thank you so much for this bountiful harvest of Domino’s, KFC, and the always delicious Taco Bell. I just want to take time to thank you for my family, my two beautiful, beautiful, handsome, striking sons Walker and Texas Ranger, or T.R., as we call him, and of course my red-hot smoking wife, Carley, who is a stone-cold fox… my best friend… (here he gets interrupted a bit, then continues…)

Ricky Bobby: Dear Lord Baby Jesus, we also thank you for my wife’s father, Chip. We hope that you can use your baby Jesus Powers to heal him and his horrible leg. It smells terrible and the dogs are always bothering with it. Dear tiny infant Jesus, we —

Carley: Hey, you know, Sweetie, Jesus did grow up. You don’t always have to call him “baby”. It’s a bit odd and off-puttin’ to pray to a baby.

Ricky: Well, look, I like the Christmas-Jesus best and I’m saying grace. When you say grace, you can say it to grownup Jesus, teenage Jesus, bearded Jesus, whoever you want.

Carley: You know what I want? I want you to do this grace good, so that God will let us win tomorrow.

Ricky Bobby: Dear tiny Jesus in your golden-fleece diapers, with your tiny, little, fat, balled-up fists, pawing at the air…

Chip: He was a MAN… He had a BEARD!

Ricky Bobby: Look: I like the baby version best, do you hear me? I win the races and I get the money.

Carley: Ricky, finish the *%&$@ grace.

Cal Naughton, Jr.: I like to picture Jesus in a tuxedo T-Shirt, ’cause it says, like: “I wanna be formal, but I’m here to party, too.” Cause I like to party, so I like my Jesus to party.

Walker: I like to picture Jesus as a ninja fighting off evil samurai.

Cal Naughton, Jr.: I like to think of Jesus like with giant eagles’ wings, and singin’ lead vocals for Lynyrd Skynyrd with like an angel band and I’m in the front row and I’m hammered drunk!

Carley: Hey Cal, why don’t you just shut up.

Cal Naughton, Jr.: Yes, ma’am.

Ricky Bobby: Okay. Dear 8-pound, 6-ounce, newborn infant Jesus, don’t even know a word yet, just a little infant and so cuddly, but still omnipotent, we just thank you for all the races I’ve won and the 21.2 million dollars, wooh! (everyone joins in the celebration)… Love that money! That I have accrued over this past season. Also, due to a binding endorsement contract that stipulates I mention Powerade at each grace, I just wanna say that Powerade is delicious, and it cools you off on a hot summer day. And we look forward to Powerade’s release of Mystic Mountain Blueberry. Thank you, for all your power and your grace, dear baby God, Amen.

[Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, USA 2006, Regie: Adam McKay]

Imagining Jesus:

How do you like to picture Jesus? Ninja? Lead singer? 8-pound, 6-ounce, newborn infant? Consciously or not, we all have formulated a mental image of Jesus, which we have in mind when we pray or when we talk about Jesus or read Scripture, and we interpret what we hear or read or experience through that image. For example, if my image of Jesus is mainly one of a gentle shepherd always protecting the sheep, then whenever I face difficulty or struggle I’ll naturally assume something is wrong – I wandered away and am now being punished – and I’ll look and expect Jesus to come and rescue me and end this struggle. With that predominant image, I’ll read quickly through the crucifixion story, skim over the suffering, because I’ve associated suffering and struggle with disobedience, as things which should not be present in my life if I’m being obedient, and so they are inconsistent with my predominant image of Jesus as the one who comes to get rid of suffering. Those stories of Jesus’ suffering become exceptions, temporary things that aren’t consistent with who Jesus REALLY is, in my perception of him, and so I rush past them to the victorious Jesus again.

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