One Degree of Difference
I did this exercise with us a few years ago, but I want to do it again. How many of you have your cell phones on you? If your cell phone has a camera, take out your cell phone and take a picture of your self. If you don’t have smart phone close your eyes and imagine seeing yourself in your mind’s eye.
Now look at the picture and notice what your see. Notice the color of your eyes and their shape. Notice the shape of your face and your skin tone. What are your thoughts as you do this?
Now looking at your face imagine that the face you are looking at is the face of God. It’s your face - but it’s also God’s face.
Does that change the image you see? Are you able to see that the image in the selfie is you and is also an image of God? God has your eye color, your skin tone, and the same shaped face as you.
God looks like each one of us and all of us at the same time. God reveals God’s self in and through every human being. God is black and brown, pink, and white, olive toned, and all shades of skin color. God has blue eyes, brown eyes, black eyes, gray eyes, green eyes, and every shade of eye color. God has all hair color and all textures.
At the same time God has none of our human characteristics - because God is neither limited nor confined by human constructs - God made us in God’s image - thus God is like all of us - but God is also more, much more than all of us.
The identifying characteristic that made the Hebrews different from any other faith is the reality that God was with them, where ever they went, God went with them. As Christians we’ve come to know God as revealed in the person of Jesus. God with us gives us the idea that we can see and know God in human form.
Now take a look at the person sitting near you. Yes, this will feel a little uncomfortable. But try it anyway. As you look at a person sitting near you, say out loud, “You are the face of God. In you I see Jesus.”
Just sit with that for a moment. “You are the face of God, in you I see Jesus.” Each one of us is the face of God, in us God’s love made manifest in Jesus is revealed to the world.
So looking again at your image in the selfie - think about this, that God is looking back at you. What does God see?
God sees a beloved human being. God sees a person that God loves deeply. God looks at you tenderly and with compassion, holding all your fears and worries with love. God looks at you and says, you are my most precious creation, with you I am well pleased.
God does the same thing with our church. God looks at us, with all our flaws, and says, Christ Church in Dearborn, is my most precious creation. God does this for every church, every synagogue, mosque, and house of worship. God loves God’s creation.
At Christ Church we have many ways of expressing God’s presence in and through us and out into the world around us. As a community centered church that feeds people in mind, body, and spirit, we reveal the face of God, the love of Christ, to those who come into our building for the food pantry, for blessings in a backpack, to support the work of Creating Hope International and its initiative to educate women in Afghanistan, to the League of Women Voters and their work to develop informed voters, to dance classes, martial arts, stretching, voice lessons, Chapel Day preschool, AA meetings, even to the postal carriers who come here every day for a brief respite and a bathroom break.
These are just a few of the ways that we reveal God’s love made manifest in Jesus, God’s love in us, through the mission and ministries of this church. One could say that revealing God’s love is a Christian practice, a habit, that gets formed in one’s self when one comes to church and works on growing into a mature Christian with an active faith.
Christian practices help us form habits of faith which then inform how we live. Developing habits of faith is a process, one that we develop by being intentional and consistent, by literally practicing the practice of being a Christian. We learn the practice of being a Christian in our worship on Sunday morning, that is its purpose - to form and inform us - so we can go out into the world and live our faith, seeing God in one another and loving as Christ has taught us.
Next Sunday is Consecration Sunday, the day we bring to the altar our pledge of support for the mission and ministries of Christ Church for 2018. It’s called Consecration Sunday because in the act of filling out the pledge card and bringing it to the altar we are connecting our financial giving to the most sacred and intimate practice of our Christian faith, the place in our worship where we come face to face with ourselves and with God in the bread and the wine, in the act of sharing, in giving and receiving, in being fed in mind, body, and spirit. Coming to the altar with your pledge card is an act of consecration, a practice of faith, of making sacred and holy, yourself and your gift, all of who you are. It’s turning what is Caesar’s into something blessed and holy, transforming our money and ourselves into an offering for God and God’s work in the world.
Sailors have a saying, when navigating far out at sea the horizon can be deceiving such that even a one degree of difference can completely alter one’s course and where one lands.
A one degree of difference in how we see ourselves and live and practice as Christians can alter the entire outcome of the world we live in. A one degree of difference in what each of us chooses to give back to the church for God’s work in the world can completely alter the outcome of the work this church can do.
Give more not because the church needs it, because ultimately it is not about us, it’s not really about this church, but about God’s work in the world, which is done through the church.
Each of us is being asked to seriously consider what we are giving to the church and honestly assess if we can give more. This is not meant to pressure or shame. It’s an invitation to consider how one sees God in one’s self and in others. To look at your selfie on your phone and see God in you and you in God. To see the face of Jesus in the person sitting next to you. To recognize the deep love that resonates in and through this church and the generous ways we share God’s gracious love with the world, acknowledging that many people are fed in mind, body, and spirit, because this church exists right here on this corner. Christ Church has made a positive impact on Dearborn for 150 years. Making a one degree of difference now in how we reveal God in us and us in God, we can continue to be effective witnesses to God’s love and work in the world for years to come.
a reflection on the readings for Proper 24A: Exodus 33:12-23; Matthew 22:15-21