Thursday, October 30, 2008

"Jesus the Carpenter"

"If I had a hammer
I'd hammer in the morning
I'd hammer in the evening
All over this land
I'd hammer out patience
I'd hammer out justice
I'd hammer out the love between
My brothers and my sisters
All, all over this land…"

-     adaptation of Peter Seeger's classic

Okay, so we've had Joe the Plumber, Tito the Builder, and even Christine the Hairdresser…but I'm sticking with the counsel and experience of Jesus the Carpenter….whose dad, by the way, was named Joe(seph). Hence, "If I Had a Hammer."

Doubts about "Barack the Senator" becoming "Barack the President" based on a lack of experience in handling a national crisis - should his presidency be "tested" within those first few months after taking office - have plunged me deeply into the heart of prayer...and the pages of the Bible.  And in part, I've found my peace in reading the Gospel account of Jesus' own transition from humble carpenter to spiritual leader.

He too was tested within the first historic moments of "taking office". 

Let's revisit the "scene".  Jesus, at the age of thirty, arrives on the shores of the river Jordan to be baptized of John.  John sees immediately that this is "the one"…not "that one" (sorry..I couldn't resist), but the one they have been waiting for.  At first he recoils from Jesus' request to be baptized on the grounds that he, John, should be asking this clearly extraordinary spiritual thought-leader to be baptizing him.  But when Jesus urges him to "suffer it to be so now…" he acquiesces and Jesus,  "coming up out of the water. sees the Spirit descending on him like a dove and a voice from heaven saying, "This is my beloved son, in whom I am well-pleased."

Now,  before you go off on a rant about my comparison of Barack Obama (or any other candidate) to Jesus Christ,  let me explain that this is NOT what I am inferring.  I am simply saying that we can use Jesus' experience as a metaphor for contemporary choices, decisions, and, as even Mary Baker Eddy says, in speaking of her own example:  "follow me, only as I follow Christ."  We all have the footsteps of Christ Jesus' life to follow in charting our own course…and in examining the course of history.

Okay, that said,  back to my ramblings. So here is this humble thirty year old carpenter who is thrown into the spotlight by divine anointing,  and one might think that, as a spiritual thinker…regardless of your faith tradition….it can't get any better than this.  This would clearly have been the highlight of a very young man's "glorious career"…a spiritual leader divinely launched.   But what comes next is what astounds, sobers, and  inspires me. 

Right on the heels of God's proclamation that Jesus is His beloved son…and that He, God, is well pleased with him, comes this next statement:

"Then was Jesus led of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted…"  THEN!!!

Now my dictionary says that word, "then", means "at that time, immediately, next"

So here he is, having just been front of John the Baptist and all who might have been at the river, waiting for the son of God.  The Spirit has descended upon him, the Holy Ghost speaks to him and he is told that God is well-pleased with him….
by Him,  by God!

then…right then…the next thing that happens...he is led into the wilderness by the Spirit to be tempted…again, my dictionary says of the word tempted: "tried, tested"…and how does he fare.  Well, we know that he reasons...calmly and rationally...with the tempter.  We know that he is neither flustered or irrational.  We know that this young well-read Hebrew student, invokes Scripture…spiritual law…authoritatively.  We know that eventually he, with calm poise and certain strength, dismisses the tempter's demand, and his right to a "voice".

He is thirty years old, he is a former carpenter in a new career…but he is ready. 

Being tested in the first few moments of taking office didn't undermine his unfaltering poise or wise execution of new duties.  Perhaps he had been inspired by the path of young David who defeated Goliath, or Solomon who was "but a child' and yet ruled fairly and faithfully.  Perhaps he had learned from his own dad, that a young carpenter
can hear the voice of God and trust His hand in wisely guiding his path in all things.   Each of his Old Testament servant-leader role models had governed tribes, nations, and families with humility, grace, moral courage, and an unflinching trust in God's ability to govern their own hearts and the hearts of their constituents:

"I can of mine own self do nothing, but what I seeth the Father do"

Rather than seeing the temptations….the trying of his appointment, the testing of his ability…as a challenge, an imposition, an indication of his inexperience…perhaps we could see it as an opportunity to prove how valuable humility, innocence, and poise are in choosing servant-leaders of any age…and in every age. I believe that whoever becomes our president, will be guided by a divine hand and if tested, will not be found wanting.

Just a thought,

photo credit:  Karlin Krishnaswami


  1. Anonymous9:18 AM

    I might agree with your observations more if you were talking about a candidate who was truly dedicated to God. Obama is dedicated to self - and to socialism. It's a shock to me that more Christian Scientists are not alert to the mesmerizing and dangerous effect of socialist, Marxist, communistic thought. Collective thought - government directed thought - is an antipode of CS. Obama wants to take this country down a dangerous road. I do hope that you and more CS'ists will awaken to the need for free thinking.

  2. This comment is at the very heart of what I find most saddening in our world today.

    It strikes me as unkind and presumptive to state that a candidate is not truly dedicated to God when the candidate has publicly stated otherwise. How can we truly measure what's in another's heart when it comes to their relationship with God?

    Furthermore, Obama has devoted his life to public service, community organizations, and caring for "the least of these my brethren." Jesus preached "sell all that you have and give to the poor." How might you square this with notion that "collective thought is the antipode of CS"?

    I respect the contributions and devotion of both candidates, and I'm not primarily coming to the rescue of Obama here....but instead to question the notions suggested by the commentor.

    with affection and compassion,

  3. Anonymous10:18 AM

    Oh dear. We already have a progressive tax code, and the earned income tax credit came during the Reagan years, for heaven's sake.

    We all pitch in to help run our country and to help the neediest among us. The first is only fair, and the second is only right. (The bible is full of reminders to minister to the less fortunate--do CS's do that? or do they cross the road in disdain for those who are not making their demonstration?)

    That said, it is wrong for Warren Buffet to pay less than his secretary, and he at least admits that.

    Remember "For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay [them] on men's shoulders; but they [themselves] will not move them with one of their fingers."

    I am sorry for any harsh tone in the above.

  4. Anonymous1:49 PM

    ...And he never complained. He never walked away from an opportunity to heal or set the example. He never expressed disgust or disdain or disregard for another's choice; he loved. No wonder why Christian Scientists call Jesus the way-shower. I'm gonna be ready for MY "next" gig.

    And, author of anonymous post 1: your political pontification and misplaced judgment for the public street monkey grinder.

  5. Dear "Anonymous" (first commentor)...I apologize, but I cannot, in good conscience, post your last three comments. They do not reflect, what I know spiritually to be, your true nature or the character of this blog. They are personal attacks that are unfounded and I will not "publish" them, or give them voice...if you would like to make comments that aren't personal defamations or vitriol, I would be more than happy to have your voice join this chorus of thoughtful hearts.

    I will share, here, a quote from the end of "What the Bleep..."

    "Agreement is not necessary...only the willingness to think with an open mind..."

    with great love and affection....and HOPE...

  6. What I love about this blog is that it made me feel better about how I can prayerfully support any candidate (democrat or republican) at any level (local, state or national) regardless of my politcal preferences. And it reminded me that as Mary Baker Eddy (the founder of CS) says, "Trials are proofs of God's care"...not proof that we have in some way done something wrong and are now being punished. Trials give us the opportunity to prove our best selves, to hone the talents God has given us in facing the puzzle at hand. Eddy also says, "The time for thinkers has come." Sometimes I have to remind myself that while the "other party" may have a dramatically different approach to solving problems, deep down we all have the same motive--to make the world a better place.

    Yes, there have been times when I've felt that the Christian Science community could have been better Good Samaritans, but gratefully I also see churches and individuals trying to break out of their paradigms and comfort zones and be more kind and nonjudgmental. Some people just seem to naturally know what to do or say to help others. I love their examples of grace. I especially appreciated Kate's recent blog "Easy to be Hard" (see Sept. 25) which reminded me to start with little things.

  7. Anonymous10:46 PM

    The Colbert Report had the Socialist Candidate for President, Brian Moore on the show this last week. Stephen Colbert asked him if Mr. Obama was a Socialist. The gentleman laughed at him and said - absolutely not. Please view here:

  8. Kate, you are a gem among mediators. Keep speaking your mind, we need you.

  9. There were a couple of comments that questioned pro-life/pro-choice issues in this race...when I approved them for posting they disappeared into cyber-space, but never appeared in the list of comments...I urge anyone who is interested in entering a dialogue on this issue to visit Laura's post from November 1st at

    I love Laura's response to a reader....