Selfies with the Dalai Lama

By Lisa B. Thomas  •  September 15, 2022

“If you’d come today, you could have reached a whole nation, Israel in 4 BC had no mass communication.”
Jesus Christ Superstar
Tim Rice & Andrew Lloyd Webber 

Growing up, I never lived close to my grandparents. We never even lived in the same state. However, my parents made sure that my brother Mark and I had opportunities to know them and to build a relationship with them. Each Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter — as well as time in the summer — we would take the trip from Cleveland to Buffalo to spend time with both sets of grandparents. There was the telephone, of course, but long distance was expensive so calls were relatively infrequent.

However, it was the letter writing that I did with my Grandma Cookie that was so meaningful to me and made me especially close with her. We wrote letters back and forth from the time I learned to write until the end of her life. And now that I am the grandma and don’t live close to my grandchildren, I too have to find ways to forge a relationship with them when visiting is only possible a few times a year.

And, like my Grandma Cookie, I too write letters to 10-year-old Jami and 7-year-old Isabell, but that is where the similarity ends — because when they receive my letters, they FaceTime me and open the letters while I watch. And then they read the letters aloud to me. I absolutely love it!  

FaceTime gives us the opportunity to visit in ways my grandparents could have never dreamed. We read books together and when I send packages, I can watch them as they open them and squeal with delight at the contents. It makes our interactions so personal, and although it is certainly not the same as an in-person visit, it’s still awfully good.

With the internet, we now have countless ways to stay in touch — email, text, Facebook, podcasts, Zoom, & Instagram to name just a few. I can only imagine what Jesus’ ministry would be like if he lived today. Back in the day, His communication options were few. To reach the people, He hoofed it between towns and spoke to small indoor gatherings with His inside voice and to outside crowds using a whole lot of diaphragmatic support. Perhaps, He cupped His hands around His mouth to get a megaphone-like effect. Surely there were days He had serious voice strain.

But the Jesus of 2022 would definitely not have to deal with voice strain. In fact, He could reach the entire world by posting the Sermon on the Mount on YouTube, which would no doubt go viral. He could also have weekly podcasts with clever names like Messiah Moments or Rebel With a Cause: Making Good Trouble. The Rebel With a Cause: Making Good Trouble podcast would be aimed at young adults. He could interview leaders of various peace and justice causes, like environmental activist Greta Thunberg and leaders of the Black Lives Matter movement, as well as encourage involvement in these causes.

He could even find His disciples on LinkedIn — a business- and employment-oriented online service. The twelve disciples would be a diverse group of various ages, genders, cultures, races, abilities and sexual orientations who would come from all parts of the globe. Luckily, Jesus would have daily Zoom meetings for those disciples unable to be on location with Him.

And I am sure the Jesus of 2022 would not escape the attention of those in power. His message of peace, justice and love would be as controversial today as it was 2,000 years ago. I imagine certain world leaders would take selfies with Jesus to be posted on Instagram, such as President Zelensky of the Ukraine, and other leaders such as Kim Jong-Un of North Korea probably would not. However, I’m quite certain the Dalai Lama would be up for that selfie with Jesus!

I wonder if the 2022 Jesus ministry would be more effective than the Jesus with few resources? Of course, we can’t know for sure, but I can say that even without the benefit of FaceTime, email and texts, my Grandma Cookie and I had a warm and loving relationship by simply writing letters. The Jesus of 2,000 years ago also used the resources he had available. He walked and walked and walked, and engaged with everyone he met, and told them all about the Kingdom of God and how everyone can work to create God’s Kingdom right here on earth. He made each and every person He encountered feel important and cared for, and He did this all without the help of the internet, or even a microphone. Praise be to God!

About the Author

Lisa B. Thomas

Lisa is a retired registered nurse. Most of her career was spent as a parish nurse to several churches as well as parish nurse to the United Church of Christ National Office in Cleveland. She currently lives with her husband John in Westlake and has two grown children.

View all articles by Lisa B. Thomas