(photographer’s note: the reredos at saint Andrew’s episcopal church in denver is high above the altar on the back wall and so without a ladder, it is hard to get a photo of the images straight on. as a result this image was taken when i was standing on the floor, looking up at the baptism of Christ.)
These are not weak legs. The painter of this fresco wrote Jesus’ abdomen and chest quite frail. He has the chest of a ten-year-old intellectual whose heaviest lifting may have been a book of psalms. His arms are under-developed and his neck looks like a strong wind might snap it. And yet these legs are powerful legs. Why did the artist write Jesus this way?
Jesus walked. We know this about our Savior. He walked. He walked up mountains in the dark to be with God – to download the love and call which his legs were then instructed to live out on the crust of this fragile earth. Jesus is written in this image as staining in clear water and his feet are, well, gienormous.
We, you and I, are called to this same wandering. And I don’t know about you, but there is a big part of me that wants to stay home. To find a home and to stay there. To feel safe in it. To love friends in it. To spoon Kai in it. To make pots in it. To sleep soundly in it. Home is so important. I am amazed and impressed by people who have found, made and kept a home for a long time. I get easily jealous. And yet, the work of clergy is not that kind of work. We need to be able to remain detached enough to be free for God’s call.
This image helps me to worship this morning. I look at those feet and those legs and I am reminded that we are wanderers. We wandered in the desert. We wander in wildernesses. We wander to mangers. We, some few, even wander along the way of the cross at times. We wander out to the resurrection garden like Mary the Magdalene – looking for Jesus, only to be told not to hold on to Him – that he needs to be free to move, to leave, to ascend.
I have a terrible body self-image. I think I am fat, and bald and aging and all that is true. The one thing I like about my body is that I have the legs of a Greek god. Really. They look like the ones Michelangelo gave to The David. They have taken me all over the planet. They have served me well as I have wandered the streets of most major cities, many deserts, up a few mountains, along a few rivers, around a few monastery grounds and even out in front of a train.
My legs and feet remind me of Jesus’ and that is good since we are made in His image. Walking is an adventure. It takes us to new places and it reminds us of the natural, if annoying, impermanence in life.
The work of living the Christian life is not, however, having great legs nor strong ones, nor able ones. The work of the Christian life is remember, and living out the remembering, that our legs and feet need to never wander too far from the memory of our baptism waters- and the promises of them. That we love God. That we show mercy. That we walk humbly. That we serve to poor. That we are kind.