Sunday, August 30, 2015

Jesus on the Gridiron

Last week at Beaverton’s Washington Square Mall, I spotted a young man wearing a football jersey that prominently displayed the name of…not of Marcus Mariota, Russell Wilson or, heaven forbid, Tom Brady… but of Jesus Christ.

To be exact, the black jersey read in bold, white letters...


No team affiliation was indicated put I presume it was broadly Christian.

I’m not a Christian although I am a Quaker, and like all Quakers, I take the historical Jesus seriously.

I should quickly add that most of my fellow Quakers consider themselves Christians and accept the Jesus of Christianity and of the Bible. Therein, Jesus is number one, or 1 ... and the Son of God.

I also believe that the words of theology, including those of Christianity, should not separate us. We are of the same spirit. It resides beyond words. It resides in silence.

So here I am in the Washington Square Mall, a vast cathedral of consumption, and my attention lingers on the young man sporting his “Jesus 1” football jersey.

Long after he passed by,  I couldn’t let go of the image of him, his jersey and the vision of Jesus playing football.

On the gridiron, Jesus had to be a quarterback. (Team doctors, servants of the injured, don’t have numbered jerseys.)

I assumed that if Jesus wasn’t calling the signals himself, they were being signaled in from the sidelines from his coach. Presumably that would be God, The Father.

Bear with me but I should add here another theological aside. I’m a “non-theistic” Quaker…I’ve dropped traditional notions of “God” (including "God the Father") from my spiritual life. Because of my experience with “God” (and, yes, my own Father, and myself as Father) these notions distance me from what we share.

I have come to call this shared oneness “spirit” though no word does it justice. It is beyond words and borders and…goal posts.

Back on the field, Jesus, our first-string, starting quarterback, is huddling with his team and about to call the play.

Set on victory, the fist-waving crowd yells and screams. The stadium rocks. It resounds. A few — many mothers of the players — pray.

All wonder… “What will Jesus call? What will Jesus do? What is God’s command?”

The young Jewish rabbi in the huddle pauses, looks each of his mates square in the eye and says: “This game is dangerous. It is hurtful. It breeds false values. It is devoid of love beyond the love of fame and temporal victory.” He pauses and adds, “Blessed are the meek.Their names shall not be emblazoned on football jerseys.”

Then he calls the play: “Cast off your protective gear! Head for the exits! Leave the stadium. Do good work!”

And so they race off the field leaving jerseys, helmets, shoulder pads and athletic “scholarships” behind them.

Among the jerseys on the field is one that reads “Jesus 1.” Someone sees it, picks it up and sells it to a young man in Beaverton.

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