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If the Messiah came here, what questions might he ask?

Along the Spiritual Path

An amusing and affectionate prayer for the new year, attributed to Rabbi Jacob Pressman, has been much quoted recently. A final sentence begins, "And may the Messiah come this year ..." Christians believe that the Messiah came 2000 years ago, but many pray for the expected day of his return. In both cases, maybe we should heed that wry, old adage, "Be careful what you pray for. You just might get it."

For instance, what if Jesus decided to come back this year to check up on his followers, to see if we're on the right track for the new century? Looking over some of the Bible stories about Jesus, I wonder how a visit to Silicon Valley might play out.

What kind of stories might friends tell us of encounters with him? How he came to a formal dinner party wearing jeans and a sweat shirt, asked why others paid so much attention to their outfits and told the hosts to love those neighbors planning a huge two-story addition to their house?

Or the time he told the founder of that hot new Internet company to sell everything she has and enter the ministry? Or how he walked into El Camino Hospital in Mountain View and cured many of the patients just by touching them?

What if he came to our church service and watched closely as the offering plate was passed? Or spoke up during the gospel reading? "That lost a little something in the translation. Let me tell you what I really said, and why."

On the personal level, what if Jesus sat next to us as we listened to a political debate, then asked us how we plan to vote, and why? Or what if Jesus asked us for a ride one day and explained his ministry to us as we drove along. What if he came home with us, asked for water and a small tub and first washed our feet before he settled down to talk? What if he embraced us before he left and said, "My peace I leave with you." What a turbulent, disturbing, exciting, wonderful year that would be.

I'm gonna be reckless and join with the rabbi's prayer. But my knees are shaking.

Polata is a longtime member of Foothills Congregational Church in Los Altos and writes a monthly Spiritual Life column for the Town Crier.

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