Who Is Jesus to You?
Small Group Ministry Session Plan
Developed by Peter Bowden
Based on Teacher,
Guide, Companion: Rediscovering Jesus in a Secular World
by Erik Walker Wikstrom
Our session today is based on the book Teacher, Guide, Companion: Rediscovering Jesus in a Secular World, by the Unitarian Universalist minister Erik Walker Wikstrom. Rev. Wikstrom was baptized a Presbyterian, raised a Methodist, and is a student of Zen Buddhism. In describing this work he writes,
This book grew out of my own search in the religious soil that nourished me. In some ways it is a very personal book, reflecting the journey I have taken over the past several years to reacquaint myself with the figure of Jesus Christ, whom I once described in an Easter sermon as “an old friend I seem intent on forgetting.”
Our opening words are from the introduction of Teacher, Guide, Companion:
He lived over two thousand years ago in a small town in a backwater province. He spent his entire life in an area slightly smaller than the state of Vermont. Yet this Jewish peasant—born to unwed teenage parents—continues to fascinate people, believers and nonbelievers alike. Who was he? What are we to make of the claims made on his behalf? And what, if anything, does it mean in the twenty-first century to profess to have a relationship with him?
In his book Teacher, Guide, Companion, Rev. Wikstrom invites us to take a fresh look at Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus is widely recognized by Unitarian Universalists as a historical figure and important spiritual guide or teacher. Yet according to Wikstrom, "When it comes to Christianity, many of us have not only thrown the baby out with the bathwater, but also have tossed out the tub, shut off the lights, and walked out of the house, locking the door behind us."
Why does this happen? Wikstrom says, "Jesus presents a problem to the modern mind. How do we believe in a person when what we've been told about him is so unbelievable?"
- Rev. Wikstrom asks what it means in the twenty-first century to profess to have a relationship with Jesus. Do you think it is possible to have a meaningful—even transformational—relationship with a historical figure? How is this different from having a relationship with living person?
- What historical figures have inspired and supported you? Share an example of how a relationship with a historical figure has made a difference in your life.
- Recognizing Jesus of Nazareth as an important historical figure and strong influence on our culture, what role, if any, does he play in your life? Who is Jesus to you?
- What questions about the history and teachings of Jesus or other historical figures would you like to explore further?
Likes & Wishes
Our closing words are from a discussion in Teacher, Guide, Companion on how we might have a meaningful relationship with a historical figure like Jesus of Nazareth:
Let us begin by agreeing that to contemplate having a relationship with someone who has died over two millennia ago is irrational. Just because it is irrational, however, does not mean that it is impossible, or that it is not worthwhile. It simply means that your rational mind may not be the best tool to use. So what do you use? Your imagination.
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Last updated on Wednesday, June 2, 2010.
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