Do you slip into an ideal locale in an imaginary world from time to time? Not just when things are going bad, but when you want to take a moment and get another perspective on life? If you do, we are comrades! If not, I trust you won’t judge—much, hopefully.
My ideal, imaginary space is in a cabin in the mountains. The large semicircle kitchen window faces toward the southeast for superior sun exposure; the season is perpetually mid-spring when buds are just beginning to emerge; and the freshly powdered snow on said mountain is ever un-melted and catches the sun’s light prettily. It’s also important to note that I munch and sip in this place too. Why not, right? And sometimes various people sit on the comfortable chair next to me and we chat after I offer them refreshment.
And so on this one occasion, I am sipping espresso in my chair overlooking the mountains and pondering with whom I can converse in my imaginary moment. After perusing a little list, I laughingly think, “Well, Jesus would probably work”—and since I was in church, it was even appropriate!
Okay, so Jesus walks into my kitchen, sits down on the oak chair, and looks outside. He is dressed typically.
I am suddenly a bit self-conscious, as would be expected. And I abruptly think, I haven’t offered him anything! Okay, so I ask, “So Jesus, what would you like to drink or eat? Anything you want”? (At this point, I am thinking, What can I offer Jesus from my imagination? And I have an unlimited supply of whatever I want.) “You want some specialty espresso, or …” Right here, Jesus looks at me, and with an inviting smile says, I kid you not, “Jolly Ranchers.”
Now, I get that this is my imagination, but I was genuinely shocked. So shocked, in fact, that I was jettisoned entirely out of my ideal space and back into the real world. And then a couple of seconds later I repeated to myself quietly a few times, “Jesus asked for Jolly Ranchers.” I was actually thinking of offering him fancy espresso, and was thinking about what kind of roast he might want, when “Jolly Ranchers” came off his divine lips.
Totally weird. It wasn’t like déjà vu, but it had a peculiar kind of realness to it. A realness that invited more rumination. If any lesson to be learned was possible here, I was determined to think about it. And what follows are my thoughts.
Whenever I—probably just like you, too—have a guest over, I offer them my best. And the more distinguished the company, the better quality the proffered refreshment. In fact, that organic Belgian éclair or stupid expensive coffee might have been purchased just for such an occasion, right? The point is, you try to give them the posh stuff, even if you are less than rich and that happens to be your best and oldest batch of homemade granny-apple cider.
And so, Jolly Ranchers, while cool, do not fall into the “best” category. Jolly Ranchers, along with being non-nutritious, could be akin to turnip and barely soup with some added cuttings of sale priced—i.e., stale—tofu. I mean, if a ritzy person wants a sucky candy, then at least we offer them a black current–infused bonbon (these are very good, by the way) or something similar. But a Jolly Rancher? It’s so common, so normal, so average. And that’s what Jesus isn’t, right?
And take that further. In the Bible, when Jesus has the ridiculously expensive perfume poured over his feet by the former prostitute, everybody knows that Jesus deserves the best, right? But then at this thought I was stopped. Was I looking at the story wrong? Isn’t the focus of the story on the woman offering her gift to Jesus, not only the gift being for his burial? It was her intent that mattered to Jesus. In fact, the perfume she poured out might have even been considered not appropriate considering what its earlier luring purpose was in her line of work. (This is not originally my idea; I’ve heard this from the pulpit). It seems to me it was, in fact, what she had to offer him at the moment. And Jesus was okay with that.
Consider this too: the Bible made a pretty big deal about the kids visiting him and them not getting turned away. Kids, not nobles. Really, though, Jesus was generally to be found around the normal folks. Probably doing normal things.
And one more point: we all have good friends who might be above our status in social standing or whatever. Yet, after a friendship is developed, it’s not the quality of what’s offered that’s meaningful; it’s the sharing together that matters. In fact, the higher-status friend might be annoyed if he or she knew you spent an exorbitant amount on them. (Disclaimer: yes, there are those moments, as with engagement rings and such, yet even there…) A friendship is about sharing all things in common, probably because that is what sharing is all about.
And Jolly Ranchers are most assuredly that—they are common. So after my inner excursion, I am now increasingly wanting to offer more to Jesus, but the motive is enlightened. At least it seems to me that it is.
Preachers say, “Just offer Jesus what you have.” But I never believed that, and, truthfully, maybe it made it more difficult to invite him over as often. And let us keep in mind that Jesus made it abundantly clear that he was quite okay to share in our humanity. Now, that’s normal! But excuse me, I am off to buy a box of Jolly Ranchers.