Written by Steven Liechty
"His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems; and he has a name inscribed that no one knows but himself…On his thigh he has a name inscribed, 'King of kings and Lord of lords.'" - Revelation 19:11, 16
Every re-reading of the book of Revelation reveals a juicy new detail. Here, we're told, Jesus has his name inscribed on his thigh. Was it written in Sharpie? Or was it a tattoo?
I got my second tattoo in seminary, after a long and careful process of discernment, of looking at the world through Tattoo Eyes. What beliefs and symbols were so important to me that I was willing to have them permanently carved into my body? What was worth a lifetime of my allegiance, whatever may come? What would not change, however I might change?
The tattoo artist, Zed, was straight out of Central Casting, a huge biker with a mass of black curly hair just about everywhere. I was worried that whatever I asked for, I'd end up with a Harley studded with roses, but when I told him I was up at the Divinity School he was so excited to finally have someone to talk with about 4th century desert monasticism that he gave me a discount and threw in the color for free.
In case you're dying of curiosity, my tattoo was of a rugged wooden cross, with the Hebrew word "Tikkun" emblazoned above it: "to heal, repair, and transform the world."
What is it you most believe, deep in your heart? What is your life saying about how the world works, or what it could be? Is it saying that love really does conquer all? That death does not have the last word? That things will be hard for a while, but all is not lost? Is it saying that goodness and mercy shall follow us all the days of our lives, and we shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever? Is it preaching tikkun, that we can heal, repair and transform this world?
Lord, whether my skin remains as virgin as the day I was born, or I am a gorgeous human canvas, let Your name be written on my heart in ink that will never be erased. Amen.
Molly Baskette is senior minister of First Church Somerville UCC in Somerville, MA, and the author of the forthcoming book Real Good Church: How Our Church Came Back from the Dead and Yours Can Too.