Jesus at the Bean Seen

by Jessica Walters

I started going to the local Baptist church on the corner of McFadden and Bloor St., because I was looking for more stability in my life. My husband had left me a year ago, and I wanted my kids to grow up in a community of faithful adults. The Sunday school program was great, and so was the preaching, but I still hadn’t made a personal commitment to Jesus.

One Sunday, I hung back after most of the congregation left and asked Pastor Brian how to become a Christian. He said,

“Well, not many people know this, but Jesus has returned. You could ask him yourself.”

“You’re kidding. He’s back?”

“Yes, he joined us for our weekly Pastors’ Pancakes and Prayer breakfast. He told us not to tell many people, but he said that if there was someone who we thought really needed to see him, we could send them to Him.”

“I would be very honoured if he would see me.”

Pastor Brian pulled his own card from his back pocket and wrote an address on the front.

“He’ll be here tomorrow.”

The next day, while driving to the address indicated on the card, I rehearsed a speech. It was nothing too ostentatious. It expressed my gratitude at being accepted into the fold. I also wanted to let him know that if there was anything I could do for Him (that didn’t involve uprooting my family), I would do it wholeheartedly.

When I reached the address, I was surprised that it was The Bean Seen, a small independent coffee shop. I wondered if there would be a gathering around him. I anticipated having to wait to talk to him until after he finished teaching the crowds. My palms were clammy, slipping from the front door handles as I reached for them. Would I recognize Him? Would He recognize me?

I looked around The Bean Seen. Couples sat at small, handcrafted wooden tables. Diligent students studied at long tables. Finally, I saw someone at the back of the store. He had pushed two small tables together; paperwork covered both. He looked like I imagined He would look, only He had forgone the white dress and sash for outdoorsy looking clothes, as if He were a hiker or rock-climber.

When I reached the table, He saw me and stood up.

“Sarah!” He said, with such genuine love and affection, “How wonderful to see you!”

“Thank you for seeing me,” I said nervously. He gestured to the chair across from Him. I sat.

At once, He made me feel at ease and asked about my kids. He also asked how I was enjoying the church I was attending. He listened with curiosity, but I couldn’t help but wonder if He knew it all already.

We lapsed into silence. He looked at me with so much warmth, just waiting. I knew this was my moment to tell Him I wanted to follow Him. But I wasn’t sure how to bring it up. I was hoping He might be the one to start that conversation, and He was.

“Sarah, it’s just wonderful that you want to become a follower of mine.” I could feel my face turning hot and red. I felt like a fan girl. I answered,

“No one has the words of life, but you.” We gazed at each other. I could see from the way he looked at me that he knew me and loved me. Finally, He broke our silent gaze by saying,

“There’s just one more thing.”

“Anything.” I said.

“Do you mind signing this waiver?” He thumbed through a file and passed me a form.

“Oh, sure.” I said, surprised. It read:

I understand that if I become a disciple of Jesus, I agree to:

  1. Have my name changed without my choosing. This name may or may not hold metaphorical significance for my new life with Christ.
  2. Leave my father and mother. If they die, I agree to “let the dead bury their own dead.”
  3. Perform radical prophetic acts, as in the case Ezekiel, who was asked to make a fire from human dung.  
  4. All forms of social persecution, including but not limited to, being made fun of and being ostracized from social gatherings.
  5. All forms of bodily persecution, including but not limited to stoning, beheading, crucifixion (upside down or right side up), scourging and being flayed with knives.

“Wow!” I said. My pen hovered above the blank line where I was to sign my name. “That’s a tall order. I don’t know how my sister will feel about having to take care of all the funeral arrangements herself.”

“Do you mind if I see that form?” Jesus asked. I passed it back to Him and He skim read. He chuckled.

“Administration has never been my strength.” He said. “I’ve given you the wrong waiver form. That was from 1st – 3rd A.D. We’ve since upgraded.” He flipped through a different stack of papers, then passed me a new form.

It read:

21st Century Waiver

I understand that if I become a disciple of Jesus, I agree to:

  1. Be a generally nice and agreeable person to everyone I meet.
  2. When asked why I’m “different” or radiate a kind of inner peace, I agree to give a vague, non-committal, and non-confrontational response about Jesus living in my heart.
  3. Read the Bible for devotional purposes, taking passages from the ancient text and applying them to specific daily occurrences. I may also post Bible verses with unrelated pictures of nature to my social media accounts as a form of encouragement to my friends.

I looked up at Jesus and said,

“All these things I have done since last year.”

“Then you are my disciple.” He said. I signed the line at the bottom of the waiver. We gazed into each other’s eyes once more. Then I said, “I don’t know what you’re doing tonight, but would you like to come over for dinner?”

“I would love to, but I’m going white water rafting with a group of local worship leaders. How about tomorrow?” He asked.

“Tomorrow’s great.” I left The Bean Seen at peace with my new, committed life with Jesus.

Jessica Walters has an MFA in Creative Writing from Seattle Pacific University. Her work has been published in [spaces] literary journal, Still, The Ormsby Review, Convivium, and her short story Glass Jars was shortlisted for the Mitchell Prize for Faith and Writing.

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