Jesus of the People


January 19, 2020, 9:45 AM worship

Hello, I’m Lori Strauss, a member of the Anti-Racism Team here at Good Shepherd. Last year, one of our goals was to expand the ways the face of Jesus shows up in our church. We selected Jesus of the People by Janet McKenzie. Her goal was to create a work of art that reflects groups previously uncelebrated in God’s image—especially African Americans and women.

By adding this image to others in our church, like the stained glass behind me, we remind ourselves not only that Jesus never was European, but also that we are all created in God’s image. This is similar to the way we show multiple versions of Jesus through the nativity scenes in our windows at Christmas. We hope it will serve as an enduring reminder that every face we see every day is a child of God.

We ask you to reflect yourselves—and know that it’s normal to feel a little uncomfortable. We hope it helps each of us think differently about our place in this church, in this community and in our world.

Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father." John 14:9

As part of our monthly meeting and discussion series in 2018, the Anti-Racism Team watched Lenny Duncan's Do Black Churches Matter in the ELCA? videos. Jesus of the People is shown in each of the two videos; it was the first time many of us had seen the painting.

As we researched diverse artwork toward one of our 2019 goals—adding more diversity to books and artwork at Good Shepherd—we again came across Jesus of the People on the artist’s website. Paired with Janet McKenzie’s vision, goals and beliefs related to the work, Jesus of the People seemed an obvious choice.

Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.” So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:26-27