There is a story about Leonardo da Vinci… Early in his career he was painting a picture of Christ and found a beautiful young male to model for his portrait of Jesus. Many years later, Leonardo was painting a picture that included Judas. He walked through the streets of Florence looking for the perfect person to play the great betrayer. Finally he found someone dark-looking enough, evil seeming enough to do the job. He went up to the man to approach him to do the modeling. The man looked at him and said, “you don’t remember me, but I know you. Years ago, I was the model for your picture of Jesus.”
– Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of a Course in Miracles
One of the things I relish about participating in a faith community is the honest look it gives us at ourselves. On too many days, we wallow in self-loathing – I can’t do anything right. And on too many days we blame others and take a self-righteous stance – what are they thinking?! But the reality is that none of us is all good or all bad. All of us have a bit of Jesus and a bit of Judas within us. We are filled with God’s divine love and compassion. And we are fragile broken people who mess up.
There is a fancy word for worship called “liturgy.” It means the work of the people. Sunday worship is not just a time to say “yea God” but a time do our work as humans. For me, one of the most precious moments is the time of prayer, be it during communion, or the pastoral prayer, or the Lord’s Prayer where I name my Judas side, “forgive us our debts… “ I like getting that off my chest. I like confessing how I have failed to love, betrayed God’s best intentions for my life, hurt those who deserved grace and kindness.
And then for me, there is something that happens when we sing. Sometimes in an anthem, but more often in a hymn, when together we raise our voices, something washes over me, and I glimpse the possibility that we can be the face of Christ in the marketplace. And I see in your faces and hear in your resounding chords, the promise of God, revealed in the here and now.