Finding Jesus

"Jesus is lost," said the church member to the pastor. "We need to find Jesus!" To unassuming ears this conversation might sound the alarms of imminent disaster. For if we lost Jesus in the Christian church, where would we be?  Up a creek without a paddle.
 
Certainly Jesus seems to be getting lost in many congregations these days as church attendance numbers continue to plummet in most denominations, church vitality of existing communities is becoming less than inspiring, and support of vital ministries appears to be waning. The future seems uncertain for the church as we once knew it.  Change is afoot and the central message of the gospel of Jesus Christ is at risk of being lost in the shouting matches and culture battles of modern times.

The Jesus the church member was speaking of to her pastor was not the Jesus, however.  Thank God. She was talking about a beautiful ceramic wall hanging her family had given a predecessor congregation that had long since been closed. "My family gave the Christus Rex to the congregation that was closed. It was supposed to have been given to this church but no one seems to know where it is. Jesus is lost. We need to find Jesus!"

For the uninitiated Christus Rex is Latin for Christ the king. In artwork Christus Rex is rendered with Jesus Christ hanging on a cross with a golden crown on his head in place of the crown of thorns. The member was saying the artwork of Jesus was missing and needed to be located.

For months members of the congregation went on a scavenger hunt tracing leads to locate the missing Christus Rex artwork but to no avail.  Even inquiries to statewide church office archives proved unfruitful.  Jesus was no where to be found. The search was suspended.

One day the congregation had a mechanical issue above the sanctuary and had to enter the attic of the church for repairs. Ascending the stairs into the cramped attic over the sanctuary, a church member stumbled onto something in the attic.  The Christus Rex!  Jesus was found! The artwork was brought down to the sanctuary and mounted on the wall in a sacred space.  Jesus was back in the church. Ironically, even when the congregation thought it lost the Christus Rex, it was not lost;  it was with them the whole time, above them, waiting for members to rediscover it and to bring it back into their lives.  

The real Jesus Christ is not lost either even if we misplace the Lord in our lives.  Christ is with us always, above us, around us, waiting for us to rediscover him and bring him back into the sacred center of our lives.

If we find Jesus and place him at the heart of our sacred spaces, the malaise of our church will disappear and our vitality as a congregation and that of the world-wide church will revive.  For when Jesus is lost, so are we. When he is found, so are we.

Blessings,
Pastor Frank
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Article dedicated to the Rachel Teague Price family who dedicated the Christus Rex artwork that now hangs beautifully in the Amazing Grace sanctuary in Granite Falls, North Carolina.