On a sultry Monday night, Jesus walks the streets of the big city. Upon entering a local bar, He seats Himself at a table in the rear. To His right are a man and a woman, deeply enthralled in conversation. Their vocabulary is not significant; their body language says it all. Rings on their fourth left fingers are gleaming in the smoky, mood-lit atmosphere. They are married, but not to each other.. When they finish their drink, they will leave and engage in adultery, because the family life at home is too agonizing to deal with. Jesus mourns for this couple. He wishes He could help them, but they would not want it if He offered. He has offered before.
Turning to His left, Jesus spots a middle-aged man sitting alone, hunched over the bar. Clutched in his right hand is a bottle of beer, in his left, a picture of a woman and a child. The man is divorced and an alcoholic. Jesus approaches the man and seats Himself to his right. The man turns, and recognizing Jesus, begins to sob uncontrollably in shame. You see, he knew Him as a child…so long ago. Jesus grabs the broken man, and hugs him tight until the sobbing stops.
Tuesday finds Jesus at the underground punk venue. Loud, throbbing music impairs any chance of having a conversation. Jesus watches as youth with shaved heads, wearing black leather and spikes, throw themselves violently into each other and enjoy it. As dawn approaches and the club goers spill out into the city streets, Jesus approaches the youth and engages them in a discussion. An 18 year old Nazi skinhead is amazed because a Jew is showing him more love than he’s ever experienced.
Wednesday, Jesus visit’s the hospital. After presiding over a few surgeries, He enters the taboo section of the hospital. This is where the AIDS patients are tended to. There is a heaviness in the air; the smell of death is overwhelming. Jesus approaches a young man who could be no older than 25. He was infected with the virus by another man named David who “forgot” to mention he was HIV positive. Jesus extends His hand and the young man grabs a hold for dear life. The young man and Jesus weep together.
Jesus makes his regular trip to the nursing home on Thursday. He heads for the Alzheimer’s unit and enters the room of a once beautiful woman, now decrepit with old age. Jesus sits at her bedside and strokes her hand, her once soft skin now wrinkled and leathery. He listens as she tells stories of “that nice man who comes to take care of her”; a man she once referred to as her husband. When she finishes one story, she quickly begins another, eager to be noticed and heard. Hour upon hour, Jesus listens to her with interest.
Back on the streets again Friday, Jesus walks alone looking for broken people. He approaches a prostitute. She is defeated and battered; her pimp has pounded her black and blue. She doesn’t want to sell herself, but her children must eat. And there is also the drug habit that helps her “forget” the pain of this lifestyle; she must support that too. She is addicted and reviled. With compassion and gentleness, Jesus carries her away, and for the first time, she understands what true love is.
It’s Saturday night, and lying inside a cardboard box, a homeless man is trying to sleep. He’s unable to drift off because of the bitter wind whipping down the alleyway. Jesus stoops down to talk with the man, and notices he has no shirt. Removing His tunic, Jesus gives His shirt to the homeless man and moves on to the next alley.
Sunday morning, Jesus pays a surprise visit to the most prestigious church in the city. The carpet is nicely colored and the pews are comfortably padded. The congregation is dressed in uniform, every woman a pastel colored dress, every man a sport coat and tie. Jesus takes a seat in the back row and begins to listen to the man in the $600 suit hollering about money from the pulpit. Almost immediately, an usher asks Jesus to leave because He is not wearing a shirt.
But Jesus is not offended. He has plenty of places to go…places like bars and punk clubs, hospitals and rest homes, and the streets. Places where He is welcomed.