Yesterday as we were sitting around the lunch table here in the student center, Israel told us that he had been helping cut and build the new spindles for the Batchawana railings. Because he was doing carpentry he told us, “Today I feel a little more like Jesus, since, you know, Jesus was a carpenter.”
I really loved that phrase, “Today I feel a little more like Jesus.” Without becoming prideful, I think that’s something we all long to say. We want so badly to be good imitators of Christ’s humility and service, those who have in us the mind of Christ, and ones who display Christ’s love to the world.
So, it’s interesting, the Greek word for “carpenter” found in Matthew 13 and Mark 6, is tektonos or tekton, and that actually translates to “craftsman” or “artisan.” In a general sense, the term could mean a “construction worker” or “maintenance person.” So rather than a carpenter specifically and exclusively, perhaps we might imagine Jesus as a “general contractor,” a “handyperson,” or, better yet, a “Mr. or Mrs. Fix-it” for everything and anything that is broken. Jesus would be perfect for our Summer Work Crew.
I wonder, can we imagine Jesus doing the things we will do today? Might we be able to say because I painted this room, because I have cleaned this kitchen, because I have moved these wood chips, because I have fixed this railing, because I have changed these light bulbs, “Today I feel a little bit more like Jesus.”
Even as we go about our seemingly normal, maybe mundane or repetitive, maybe slightly annoying or aggravating tasks, we should remember that we ought to be imitators of maintenance worker Jesus, walking and working in love. And the Gospel of John offers us some help in doing that…
With every oven and refrigerator we clean out, we remember the one who cleaned out the Temple before the Passover feast. (Jn. 2)
With every faucet, trap, and pop-up assembly we replace, we imitate the One who offers living water, that those who drink will never be thirsty and will have in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life. (Jn. 4)
With every light bulb we replace, we imitate the One who has come as light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Him should not remain in the darkness. (Jn. 12)
With every toilet and shower we scrub down, we remember the One who knelt down to scrub off his disciple’s feet. (Jn. 13)
With every weed we pull and branch we cut back, we remember the One in whose vine we are the branches, the One who prunes back and throws out that which is not pleasing and in whom there is abiding love and beauty and fruit. (Jn. 15)
With every hole we spackle and sand or every paint line we cut, we remember the One whose sacrifice covers up our old self and makes us look good as new before God. (Jn. 19)
With every spindle we stain or wall we roll, we remember the One whose blood rolled down, like that of the Passover lamb painted across Hebrew doors, and stained that wooden cross, that death itself would be no more and we would be freed into the love of God and life everlasting. (Jn. 19)
And with every shovel full of wood chips we move or wheel barrows full of dirt we push, we remember the resurrected One who, when he appeared to Mary at the tomb, was thought to be the gardener – Mary actually thought Jesus was on the grounds crew! (Jn. 20)
Friends, as we go about our work today, whatever that may be, remember that you are doing Christ’s work of making all things new, so that throughout our different crews, our different jobs, and our different tasks we might all be able to say, “Today I feel a little bit more like Jesus.”