Jesus loved me first

Jesus loved me first

by Karen Orlandi

It was late afternoon, at the end of a circle in the darkening days of October and we had to come up with an art installation depicting Christ in Culture. My partner Alana and I were drying up when it came to creativity… till we thought of puppets! Quickly, with the last ounces of energy we had, we re-imagined the last supper. I mean who would be at the table today? Well, we tried to represent some of the people who might attend. We had puppets representing all sorts of people, an immigrant, a transgender person, another differently abled, and more.

It gave me an idea. We normally do a Maundy Thursday tableaux at Silver Spire, with people who might have met Jesus, the inn keeper, the Syro-Phoenician woman, but what if we updated it? What if we set it in a coffee shop? What if the congregation had coffee too?

We solicited twelve monologues from the congregation and they were fascinating; a bus driver, a gay Christian, a miner, a ‘spiritual but not religious’ ex-fundamentalist, a wife whose husband has a gambling problem, and a ten year old boy who prays to a tree. They all came to meet Jesus, who was not a white guy with a beard, but a lovely black woman from the congregation. She broke a donut as communion, and we passed around  timbits. Martha took care of us, bussing tables.

Maundy Thursday monologue (one of 12) – an addicts story

You probably think this would be hard to talk about but it isn’t. I’ve accepted my past, my addiction to crack, my days and nights working the streets. Those are things I did, not who I am.

While I was detoxing in jail for the last time, they kept telling me I needed a higher power. I was afraid, I was always powerless, powerless over my addiction, powerless over my parents, powerless over the men who used me. I remember when I was first getting clean and that girl that led the meetings in jail was talking to me, and I asked her a question. If I get clean, and I face all the things I’ve done, everything I’ve become; If I find out who I really am… will I like me?

But Jesus was different. Jesus loved me, unconditionally. I wanted a relationship with a Higher Power that was a male, but one that was healthy and loving. Here’s the thing that made me love Jesus back. He doesn’t need anything from me. He doesn’t want anything from me. I don’t have to iron his shirts, clean his house, cook his breakfast, buy his booze, let him do whatever he or his friends want to do to me.

This is a relationship that’s better than I could imagine. You see, Jesus loved me first. Jesus isn’t like any man I know. Jesus gives to me. Jesus gave me freedom, freedom from my life of the streets, freedom from thinking I was worth nothing, less than nothing! He made me feel like a real woman, one that don’t need a man, one that loves me because of who I am, deep down inside.

And she told me I would! That I could love myself, that she already loved me, and that Jesus did too. She promised me, and damn, she wasn’t lying. Today I love me, and Jesus did that for me. He loved me first, till I could learn to love myself.


Karen Orlandi is a CCS student and student minister for Bethel United & Cooks Mills United churches and outreach minister at Silver Spires United Church.