The Diocese of Dallas asked in their questionnaire, “What is your passion for ministry?” This picture which was originally purchased in the bazaar in Tehran by a member of my last parish, figured prominently in my answer which is below. The man who left me this in his will was a Liberian diplomat who was exiled by the famous Sargent Doe coup. He was a profound Christian man. When I first saw this image I did not imagine it would become so important to me.
I was given a rug with a picture of Jesus woven somewhat in the style of the velvet paintings you can buy at a county fair. Jesus stands looking out with very big eyes that seem to follow you, and he has his cloak pulled open with one hand and with an in-turned finger of that hand is pointing to his heart. His heart is on fire, on fire with love for God and with love for his brothers and sisters. There is a cross over his heart, for whenever this heart on fire with love of God and neighbor appears in this world it is a crucified heart. His heart is circled with thorns, a tourniquet of our thorny resistance to the love of God. He is pointing to his heart with one finger and with the index finger of an outstretched hand he is pointing at us. He says, I think, “I have come to give you this heart which is on fire with love for God and love for your brothers and sisters and which is crucified and which nevertheless beats against all resistance so that you might give it to others.” My passion for mission and ministry is that people might fall in love with God, and have formed in them the heart of Jesus Christ.