Several years ago, I was working to put together summer resources for families and came across an idea in a ministry facebook group of how a minister in Omaha used these cute little wind-up Jesus figures with her congregation. Building on that original idea, we thought it could be fun to combine the idea of a sort of Flat Stanley meets summer vacation meets following Jesus kind of thing to help families of our church be intentional about knowing that we walk in the footsteps of Jesus everywhere we go and a reminder that Jesus is always with us, whether on vacation in far off lands or just across town at the local grocery store.
So, I ordered a bunch of these wind-up Jesus novelties from Oriental Trading, had WAY too much fun in the office with the rest of the staff by seeing how many we could wind-up at once, then created a display in our Narthex for Sunday.
I contacted the leader at the Lutheran Church in Omaha where I first learned of this idea and she shared a wonderful little prayer guide that she was giving to her congregation. I used that as inspiration to create our own summer “Walking With Jesus” Devotional Guide. Feel free to download and create one for your own congregation. Please give attribute, should you create your own. (Only this PDF is available for download. I do not have an editable version, but this is easy enough for you to recreate on your own).
What we didn’t expect was that many in our church in ALL generations were excited about this! We even had to order more. This time, we got these flat, bendable figures. We collected photos from Alaska to San Antonio and from the beaches to the mountains and everywhere in between. Four years later, and a year into the COVID19 Pandemic, we “brought back” the “campaign” and it was even more fun and exciting and meaningful the second time around.
When we first launched this, I didn’t have a clue that some people would hang onto their original “Jesus” figures from 2017—one example was one of our former youth, Paige, who is now in college. She told me a story about losing hers—and what it meant to her–I had no idea she had kept it in her golf bag for 4 years! We ordered hundreds to give out—and encouraged everyone this time, to take one for themselves and another to pass along to someone else. Here’s my sermon where I spoke about stories like Paige’s.
Is this a silly little gimmick? Yes. Do I wish that the figures were more reflective of what Jesus probably looked like? Yes. Are there deeper theological and spiritual practices we could use for helping people of all generations learn to “walk with Jesus” daily? Sure. However– this is fun, memorable, simple, accessible to all ages and stages of life, repeatable, and faith-filled. So, I’ll take it.
I can’t wait to hear how you and your community (or individuals) might create your own simple reminders to walk with Jesus daily. After all—isn’t that what being a Disciple of Christ is all about?