Across the Canadian Anglican Church, bishops are retiring in droves — as songwriter Bob Dylan wrote, “the times they are a-changin’.”
Peter, in his letter, called Jesus “Bishop,” so the Niagara Anglican deemed it appropriate to interview Jesus to get his take on being a bishop.
This is our edited version; read more in the four gospels.
Niagara Anglican (NA): How did you decide what kind of Bishop you would be?
Bishop Jesus: My struggle focused on either taking the easy road offered by the evil one or following God’s more challenging way.
The former promised instant success through physical gratification, immeasurable power, unlimited properties and celebrity status.
God’s way would be difficult, filled with temptations, sacrifices, sufferings, death and finally resurrection, but bursting with a bottomless, unfailing, ever-present love.
I chose God.
NA: How did you keep focused during your ministry?
Bishop Jesus: I developed two new commandments, basically — love God and love people — and kept them before me as a reference.
I wanted to tattoo the words on my for head as a reminder, like our ancestors did with the Ten Commandments. Guess I chickened out.
NA: Why use storytelling to teach?
Bishop Jesus: I employed several teaching methods.
I used pithy sayings and miracles to get my message across, and occasionally I engaged in lengthy theological discourses, mostly with religious leaders. However, storytelling was my favourite.
Using parables helped explain the complexities of God to the average person. Today, television and social media use storytelling effectively to teach and persuade people to buy particular products or follow specific life styles.
NA: What were some challenges you faced?
Bishop Jesus: The most painful was being rejected by my own community in Nazareth; people turned against me when I claimed to be the Saviour.
The hardline religious leaders refused to share their power or give up their privilege, so they fiercely opposed anything I did.
Standing up for people on the margins or those being unfairly treated did not make me popular.
NA: How did you select your first disciples?
Bishop Jesus: Some say not very well. Look what happened — one denied knowing me, another betrayed me and they all ran away when times got rough.
I should have included women.
Despite their shortcomings, it worked out very well.
NA: Were there any humorous moments?
Bishop Jesus: Watching me hold on for dear life while the donkey bounced down the hill to Jerusalem was hilarious.
Observing the height challenged pompous Zaccheus climbing a tree to see me over the heads of the crowd triggered much laughter.
NA: What sustained you throughout your time on earth?
Bishop Jesus: I knew God would be with me through the good and bad times, and everything in between.
Spending quiet times alone and conversing with God helped me check in and refocus on what God wanted me to do.
Going to a synagogue or the temple for public worship was always uplifting and provided great strength and encouragement knowing others also wanted God’s way.
And having people support what I was doing — following me, learning from me, joining in and spreading the good news — all meant so much to me in my ministry.
NA: What advice do you have for the new bishops being elected this year?
Bishop Jesus: Firstly, decide you are going to follow the “God is Love” way.
Secondly, stay connected with your private prayers.
Thirdly, worship publicly.
Fourthly, remember God’s promise, “I am with you always.”
NA: Would you not give every follower, lay or ordained, the same advice?
Bishop Jesus: By Jove, I think you’ve got it! Sure, you’re just like me.