Meeting Jesus in the Fifth Grade
When I was ten, a movie called “The Parable” left an indelible impression. The film’s motif featured a traveling circus. (The old fashioned circus wagons at Baraboo, Wisconsin were used in the making of the movie.)
Watching the film, the impression one receives (even as a child) is that this is a mean circus. The people in it are menacing, manipulative, malevolent.
In the main circus tent, the puppet master straps human marionettes into harnesses, hoists them above the crowd, where they are jerked, whipsawed and tortured.
Into this “snake pit” comes a clown, dressed in white, head to toe.
While the audience looks on aghast as the marionettes are being abused, the clown begins to disrupt the crowd. The white faced clown pulls out a whisk broom and, while walking up and down the rows, begins to brush the children’s shoes. Laughter breaks out. This enrages the puppet master.
Spoiler alert: the clown willingly volunteers to be harnessed and hoisted above in the circus tent. The clown is tortured, abused and killed.
The clown dies, but his Spirit lives on. Men and women, who had been so belittled, taken advantage of, walk away from their old circus life. In the last scene we see this small gathering of followers down at a river’s bank. What are they doing? They are smearing white face paint on each other’s faces.
To this day, when I think of who Jesus is, I think of this movie and the white clown.
Jesus is the one who calls us to a radically different way of life, a way of love.
Jesus is the one who calls us to the heart of God, a heart that knows only love.
In short, Jesus is the face of God.