In my last post I wrote about the relevance of Jesus for the 21st century and asked the question: which Jesus? This week, I’ve been thinking about the post-Easter Jesus, that is the Jesus who’s obviously no longer with us in any of those pre-Easter physical forms.
Actually, I prefer the name “The Christ of Faith” over “The Post-Easter Jesus” because it differentiates between the man who was born into a particular place and time and the Christ which is a reality bigger than space and time. Jesus exuded (manifested, incarnated) this Divine Presence, but the Christ (Logos, Tao) is not confined to one person. So it makes sense that, although Jesus the man died, the Christ lives on.
So when I see pictures of the post-Easter Jesus as a man rising on clouds, wearing a crown or any anthropomorphic imagery, I’m turned off. In Easter, I much prefer abstract art because the cosmic nature of the Christ is beyond my imagination.
This way, too, I can sing hymns like “O Christ-Sophia, Rise” by Jann Aldridge-Clanton which incorporate the feminine person of Wisdom. This in no way diminishes or denigrates the masculinity of Jesus. Rather it allows us to expand our awareness of the full, diverse, inclusive nature of the Christ.
(If you don’t know the work of Jann Aldridge-Clanton, you should check her out right now at http://www.jannaldredgeclanton.com/index.php)
While I don’t agree with Christians who always put Jesus and Christ together, as if Christ is Jesus’ last name (sometimes we even put an H in as a middle initial!), I also don’t agree with some progressive Christians who are interested only in the historical Jesus. I don’t have any argument with their passion for following Jesus as a model of compassion, liberation and justice. I follow that Jesus, too. But I also believe in the cosmic Christ, who is present in the Eucharist and in many and various mystical ways.
Like a good Lutheran, I recognize that we live in a ‘both/and’ rather than an ‘either/or world’. For me, Christianity is about being both a follower of the historical Jesus and a devotee of the cosmic Christ: Wisdom, Logos, Tao, the Name that Cannot Be Named, Mystery. See, just as I don’t like being limited by representational art, I have trouble with names, too!
But no matter, the Christ is big enough to encompass all of our efforts at conceptualizing and understanding. You can’t get any more relevant than that.