July 26, 2020
The Seventh Sunday after Trinity
(Romans 8:28-30; Matthew 13:44-52)
I am diverting from our Scripture readings again today for a short missive.
As we continue in our daily struggles during Covid-19 difficulties, we are being flooded with news that federal agents are on the streets of Portland. In a free speech and right to protest country, we are seeing suppression. Hmmm …. (After writing this sermon, riots have broke out in Portland. Peaceful protests are a constitutional right, however, riots are very counterproductive and I in no way encourage rioting.)
We shouldn’t even have to gather in protest if we are doing what Christians should be doing – loving one another (though, admittedly, this is not the sole reason for the protests, but it is certainly part of it). Why?
What do you see in the mirror when you look into one? Or when you look at water in a stream, or lake etc.? You see your reflection, of course. What if someone is perched over your shoulder while looking into a mirror or stream? You now see your face and the face of the other person.
Imagine if we could see the face of God. In Hebrew the word for face is panim. The im at the end indicates plural. So, the word face is not really face but faces. So, when one speaks of the face of God, especially in Hebrew, we would actually speak of faces of God!
A face is not the essence of a person, but merely the appearance of a person. It is how we know and recognize each other. When we see the face of God, we see Him via His panim …. Through His many faces. We see Him in His blessings, in His provisions, in every good thing that has blessed our life, in the love He wove into those who once cared for you, in every kindness shown to you in your time of need, in every good given to you by His people.
In their panim, the faces of these people, we see the face of God. As Mary of Magdala looked into the face of God but didn’t realize it was His face (John 20:15), so too have we looked into the face of God but didn’t realize it was His face. Or maybe I should say, we have forgotten that when we look at someone else, we are seeing one of the faces of God.
For blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God! We should be looking for the good, the holy, the beautiful and we will see the face of God.
When you allow your life to be used as a vessel of His love and your heart to be moved by His Spirit, then when people look at you, they will see the face of God.
How often have we looked at someone or encountered someone and failed to see our Lord in their face? How often have you passed a homeless beggar and felt disgusted and judged them as being on drugs, instead of someone needing help? How often have you encountered a same sex couple walking on the street holding hands and you thought that it was an “abomination,” instead of two people in love? How often have you had an interaction with a black person whose pants were so low that their underwear were showing and they spoke using grammar that you felt horrible and you allowed a discriminatory epithet come to mind, instead of merely seeing a fellow human who has had a less privileged upbringing than you, especially when there is a white kid down the block that dresses and speaks the same as the black person but you didn’t judge them the same way? You get the point.
We have all been created in the image of God and we should always remember this. We also need to always remember the radical love Jesus had toward anyone and everyone He encountered.
And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’ Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.’ Then they will answer and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?’ He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’ And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” (Matthew 25:40-46)
Now granted, some will say the examples I gave earlier would not immediately seem to apply here, but the thing we must remember is that Jesus really meant this for ALL people, not merely the disadvantaged. In our political climate, and with the additional complications we are seeing in public view, it is easy to get caught up in the rhetoric and lose sight of the fact that we are all equal in God’s eyes. We all hold an image that is part of the face(s) of God.
I would like to challenge everyone to find someone in your life (directly or indirectly) that troubles you or you seem to have difficulty accepting or associating with, and say some kind words, maybe strike up a conversation and even pray with them. You will both possibly gain a better awareness of each other and even build a valuable friendship from it. You never know, they may be wanting to connect with you as well!
God Love You +++
++ The Most Rev. Robert Winzens
Pastor – St. Francis Chapel
San Diego, CA
We are beggars - As some of you know, places of worship are closed again due to the uptick in the Covid-19 infections, so we see a decline in giving. If you are able, we ask you to consider helping.