Waking up in the Palace

Jonas Ellison
5 min readOct 29, 2019
Photo by Léa V

I wrote a line recently that made me reflect (even more than I usually do) on my current life path…

“The biggest opponent of religion that I’ve ever read about was Jesus.”

It’s one of those lines that just… came out. Unexpectedly. And as it sat there on the page staring defiantly back at me, I‌ knew that it wasn’t budging. I‌ don’t even know if the delete key would work on it.

The hard thing for me is this: I believe that line. AND I’m also on a very ‘religious’ vocational path towards ministry in the mainline denomination of the Lutheran church. Should things work out, I’ll be wearing a clergy collar, chasuble, etc. in a traditional church. The liturgy in the Lutheran tradition, like many denominations, varies from ‘low church’ (not a lot of bells and whistles, vestments, icons, etc.) to ‘high church’ (much like a Roman Catholic mass). The end I’m gravitating towards is the ‘high church’ end.

So, out of one side of my mouth, I’m saying that Jesus wasn’t ‘religious’ (a big word to unpack, right there). And out of the other side of my mouth, I’m proclaiming my love for ‘religion’ (in the Christian sense, which isn’t authentically Christian, but we’re splitting hairs here). What’s the deal?

Well, this is one of those divine paradoxes. It’s two polar opposite things being held in one hand. This is a quality (aka: contemplation) that we must foster if we’re going to follow Jesus's message. He was hardly ever binary (’either-or’ thinking). Rather, Jesus was almost always a ‘both-and’ kinda guy).

Here’s how this shows up as far as the Christian ‘religion’ goes. It’s a fascinating concept (if I do say so myself)…

When Jesus was young, he was actually quite religious. There are stories in the Bible (one in particular that I’m thinking about now in Luke 2:41–52) that speak of him as an adolescent sneaking off to hang out in the temple with the elders learning and arguing about scripture. The elders were quite impressed with this kid’s scriptural prowess. Jesus’s parents yelled at him for being there (an odd way for parents to react to their pre-teen son hanging out at the Temple, indeed). But, as he argued back, “Why were you looking for me? Didn’t you know that it was necessary for me to be in my Father’s house?”

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Jonas Ellison

Not here on Medium much anymore. Head over to my Substack to see the latest: jonasellison.substack.com 👍🙏🤙