JESUS DOLL CHANGES HOW MEMBERS THINK
There is a familiar old poem which began with the words, “If Jesus came to your house … ” The verse asked the question, “Would you change your behavior while Jesus was visiting?”
One Lutheran congregation south of the Minnesota River decided to find out what might happen if Jesus seemed physically to show up in members’ homes.
At Peace Lutheran Church, Inver Grove Heights, Minn-esota, a “Jesus doll” was presented to one of the families on the first Sunday in Lent. Peace’s pastor, the Rev. Chris Becker, told Metro Lutheran, “They were instructed to take it home and reflect on what it means to them to have Jesus ‘with them’ at all times.”
The doll was fitted with a burlap carrying bag, into which was placed a journal. The family hosting the doll was asked to write in the notebook, including experiences and feelings about having the Jesus doll in their home for half a week.
Journal entries (see boxed column ) were not signed. After three or four days, the host family passed the doll to another member family.
According to Pastor Becker, some of the families that hosted the doll had great discussions with their children; others found the doll a real conversation-starter when visitors came. While several homes hosted the doll, there were not as many as the congregation’s leaders had hoped. So, the doll will be offered to families during Lent again next year.
Peace’s parish secretary, Angy Thelemann, was one of the hosts for the doll. She said, “In our family, the adults were hesitant to take ‘Jesus’ out in public. But we took it to dinner at my mom’s house. There we actually gave the doll a place to sit at the table.”
According to Thelemann, one member took the doll to work with her. “She certainly got a lot of conversation going as a result.”
The doll was purchased at a religious book store. Members of Peace got the idea for the project from a nearby United Methodist congregation.