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Monday, June 24, 2013

Flat Jesus

I love The Episcopal Church.

Oh, okay. There are times when She pulls my last, poor, tired nerve, but mostly, I love what she has become in the last 40 years. 

I just heard that the family of James Gandolfini has chosen The Episcopal Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City as the location of his funeral. The choice was made on the size of the Cathedral (Big Italian Family) and, I quote, "that the Cathedral embraces people of all faiths."

I love her willingness to take creative risks and laugh at herself. Indeed, parts of our beloved church are working overtime to change our image as "The Frozen Chosen".

For example: The Flat Jesus Project.

I'm not sure where it originated - probably NOT The Episcopal Church - but I think it may have something to do with Flat Stanley.

I first learned about it from a friend who lives in Michigan. St. James Episcopal Church in Birmingham, MI started a "Flat Jesus Project," launching it on FaceBook, with this statement:
"Do you sometimes wish that Jesus was right there beside you as you navigated through your day? He is, as FLAT JESUS. This visible expression of your faith is a great opportunity to create conversations with your friends & family as you take him with you."
The idea is to take Flat Jesus with you during the summer and take pictures wherever you go. Then, you can either send your pictures to the Church or upload them on their Flat Jesus FaceBook page.

Hopefully, you'll also want to talk about what you and Flat Jesus experienced.

I think it's a very cool, creative way to keep people connected to their faith (and, yes, okay, the church) during summer vacation.

So, I wrote the folks at St. James, explaining that I am not artistic but I'd love to be part of the Flat Jesus project and would they send me one?

Well, I'm delighted to say that Flat Jesus arrived in today's mail. He was in a plain manila envelope, marked in red "Handle with Care" and "Please do not bend" and (I can't imagine what my postal carrier thought of this one) "Flat Jesus Enclosed."

As you can see, I immediately tried to make him comfortable in our wee cottage on Rehoboth Bay. I've read fairly extensively about his life, and I know he likes nothing more than to par-tay.  I mean, it's fairly well known that he consorted with a few "sinners " and "notorious types" back in the day.

So, first things first: I introduced him to the collection of Bathing Beauties on my mantle.

I offered him a glass of wine, which, I must say, he really enjoyed.

Much to my surprise - and contrary to many altar guild members I've known over the years - Jesus likes white wine.

It's modern, he tells me. Not like the stuff he used to drink in ancient Israel.

And, it doesn't stain purificators - eliminating a huge source of work for altar guild members.

What a friend we have in Jesus, right?

Besides, white wine is cold. Crisp. Refreshing. Especially on a hot summer's night like tonight.

Funny thing. He wasn't very interested in the ladies. And, they were some real beauties, as you can see. I think he's spent way too much time over the centuries hanging around with the guys.

I'll have to take him to Rehoboth Beach, of course.  I can't wait to get an order of Boardwalk Fries, sit Flat Jesus next to me on the bench facing the ocean, and see what happens as tourists walk by.

And, I'll have to take him to church with me on Sunday. It will be interesting to get his opinion on what we do together in His name.

Of course, I'll have to bring Flat Jesus with me to the Fourth of July festivities. I'm doing a Memorial Service at Bethany Beach for one of my former Hospice Patients in the morning (I know. Life in the fast lane, eh?), but we have a front row seat for the fireworks right on my deck that night.

I'm thinking Flat Jesus will love the "Annual Drag Volleyball Tournament" at the "Poodle Beach" section of Rehoboth Beach on the Sunday of Labor Day Weekend.

It's always more fun than is absolutely necessary.

I'm sure Flat Jesus will love the Friday night special 1/2 price Alaskan King Crab Legs at Dos Locos.

Just for a change from all that wine, I'll even let him have a sip of my Gold Margherita. Up. Two limes. Salt all around the rim.  Yum Yum.

Of course, you don't have to order a Flat Jesus from St. James. You can make your own Flat Jesus, with your own crayons, pencils, and pens.

Just be sure to laminate Him. Mine is. Very practical.

Turns out, Flat Jesus can be pretty fragile.

What? This isn't the real Incarnation, you know. It's Flat Jesus, after all. 

You can even start your very own Flat Jesus FaceBook page. Or, just post pictures and stories on your regular FaceBook page. Just be sure to link my FB page to it so I can see your Flat Jesus and learn of your Adventures. I'm happy to post some of your pictures on my blog, too.

If anyone knows how to develop an app for a smart phone for Flat Jesus, I'm sooOOoo there.

Stay tuned. Lots of stories and pictures are on their way.

It's a summer of Big fun with Flat Jesus.

I can hardly wait. 


JCF said...

Funny, I just learned about "Flat Stanley" a couple of days ago (from an Episcopalian, of course!). I responded, "Is he like the Roaming Gnome?"

So, how bout it? Instead of a "Flat Jesus" (I just don't see Jesus as flat!), a Roaming Jesus Gnome? W/ a little pointy hat! :-)

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

I think Jesus is many things to many people. You should start a Roaming Jesus Gnome movement. What a hoot.

Marthe said...

Outreach to the young, dear ... Phlat Jesus with his sidekick Phlush Phlamingo ... got my colored pencils out :-)

Elizabeth Kaeton said...


Marthe said...

Oh, I just assumed the young at heart ... the secret the young do not know: most of us never really crustify, they just like to think we do.

Lyn G. Brakeman said...

I'd like to start a Gumby Jesus project to accompany Flat Jesus, just for the flex of it. And for the filer I'd add Doughgirl Jesus. love Heart-Young Jesus

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Marthe - Absolutely.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Lyn - I think having fun with Jesus is the antidote to all the serious-as-a-heart-attack evangelicals out there.

Lew said...

It also helps that St. Patrick's is under MASSIVE restoration, and couldn't possibly host a funeral of this size....

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Somehow, I don't think James would have wanted his funeral there. There are stories of him hanging out at Intercession while doing some filming there. He LOVED the BCP.

Mary said...

I really believe that most of the time we feel like there is a need to be able to really make visible experience with our God Jesus not just a spiritual encounter rather an actual one. I am still looking for a better topic for my college graduate dissertation project.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Mary - I don't know where you are doing your doctoral work, but I love your topic and I think Flat Jesus could be a chapter.