Note: this post comes from the webpage for First United Methodist Church of New Ulm, MN, under “From the Pastor’s Desk.”
You know the children’s book, Flat Stanley? Well, this is the same idea. Only this time, instead of mailing a picture to different places, the children of First UMC each received a picture of “Flat Jesus” to take with them through the summer. They were invited to color in the picture, maybe even cut it out, and take the picture wherever they might go. Heading to Grandma’s house? Bring Flat Jesus along! Going to summer camp, or on vacation with the family? Flat Jesus is there! Children were encouraged to have someone take a picture of Flat Jesus at each location, and send me the photos by e-mail or Facebook.
It might be difficult to see in the photos, but across the bottom of each Flat Jesus are the words, “I am with you always!” from the Great Commission (Matthew 28:20). The whole idea was to remember that Jesus goes with us wherever we go, and will always be with us, no matter what. Isn’t that a great promise?
Since teaching by example is something Jesus did, and I want to be like Jesus, I decided to kick off the summer with my own Flat Jesus itinerary. I headed off to Chicago to be ordained to Word and Sacrament in the Evangelical Covenant Church (how I ended up in a Methodist church is a different story for another day!) and took Flat Jesus with me for the journey. After ordination, my husband and I took a few days of vacation before returning to New Ulm.
We learned along the way that total strangers really like helping to take pictures of Flat Jesus, once they hear the story. It was a great way to meet people, and to share the Good News of Jesus with people we might not otherwise have talked to. Here’s where we went, and what we did, remembering that Jesus is always with us, no matter what.
When we got to the hotel in Chicago, the first thing we did was check into our room…
Then we took a walk to find something to eat. There was a Mexican restaurant nearby that had a great chips and salsa bar – we chose a few different kinds of salsa, and Flat Jesus liked them all!
After supper, Flat Jesus sang really loud during the worship service!
The next day was full of meetings, and Flat Jesus thought those pictures would be pretty boring for you, so I won’t post them here. But he was there, believe me! When the delegates voted to approve the 83 ordination candidates, he was very happy!
On Friday, Flat Jesus stayed with us as we took my mom and my sister to eat real Chicago pizza at Lou Malnati’s. On Saturday, he had to check out the ordination stoles during a break in the rehearsal for the ordination service. Then he graciously posed with Donn Engebretson and me – Donn was the Vice President of the Evangelical Covenant Church the year I served on the worship planning team for our midwinter conference, and it was a blessing to learn that he would be the one laying hands on me during ordination. This is all I have time to post right now – I’ll let you see where we went after Chicago tomorrow! Peace, Pastor Jo Anne