A 14-year-old boy called Walker whose heart is breaking prays and the next day Jesus turns up in his bedroom, long flowing robes, sandals and all.
This short story/poem is absolutely amazing. The Jesus we meet is the Jesus I’d like everyone to meet.
I often ask people to read one of the gospels to actually meet this Jesus they think they know something about. Now, I have a new ‘gospel’ to give them.
It takes about 40 minutes to read this story and you will meet a Jesus who is funny, irreverent, down-to-earth, practical and naturally, asks more questions than he answers.
Apart from the fact that he is telling Walker’s story rather than Jesus’ story, Ron Koertge does an excellent job of representing to us the character and nature of who Jesus is, every bit as good as Matthew, Mark, Luke or John!
This is a story about how each and every one of us can know the everyday presence of Jesus in our lives, can talk to him honestly and truthfully about all the crap and rubbish we find deep inside ourselves.
We don’t have to polish up or do our best to impress this Jesus, we just have to open up and be willing to be surprised that he actually wants to come alongside us. He actually wants to hear our story, hang out with us. He actually cares about the things that we deeply care about.
It’s very moving and very funny. I warmly recommend it.
This morning in my book of daily readings I came across the following poem, which kind of says the same thing:
The God who is way up there and feels so beyond us, actually became one of us. If we can only open our eyes to see him, if we can drop the pretence of ‘I’m fine’, ‘no help needed here’, we can find someone who wants to walk with us through the everyday challenges, who wants to sift through the deepdown pains and hurts, who wants us to feel joy and not simply manage by numbing all our emotions. It’s easier to live with hurt and disappointment than it is to feel that hurt and disappointment. But when we refuse to allow ourselves to feel it then we also closedown our capacity to feel joyful engagement with life.
In Coaltown Jesus, Walker thinks that his mother is the problem and he asks Jesus to sort her out. Wisely, Jesus knows that Walker is the problem and only when Walker owns his own darkest inner story does he begin to move into the light.
Here’s the poem:
I heard about a king who owned a castle in the sky
where serfs and Kings were all the same and nobody ever had to die.
I heard all wealth and power was shared with the common man;
and other serfs said, ‘seems to me like a dream in a wonderland’.
And as the years went by I still had doubts about it all,
but something burned down deep inside so I searched for the castle wall.
I said ‘hey, King, can you see me from your castle in the sky?’
There’s just no way to look inside ‘cos the walls are much too high!
When she come down from your castle into my wishing well?
Tell all the sunken memories they’ve each got a dream to tell’.
And though you may not understand, it’s just my way to say:
Castle kings and poor men’s dreams fill your life only with toil and pain.
And finally I met a serf who seemed a lot like me.
He said, ‘I am the castle king, won’t you come and I’ll set you free?’
He took me to the castle moat, and the bridge was quickly drawn.
I fell in shame to hide my face as the surf turned to take the throne.
And he came down from his castle into my wishing well,
picked up the sunken memories with each their dream to tell.
And though no one else could, he understood the words I had to say,
the castle king changed everything; now I walk with him every day.
In all my dreams I’d never seen the surf with a smiling face,
but now it’s true, I’m telling you, for the service and the King embrace.
Tim Sheppard from Celtic daily prayer book one February 11th Finan Readings