On a recent trip to Honduras I was able to play peek-a-boo with an infant. He attentively responded to my smile, then looked confused when I held my hands in front of my face, and reacted with surprise when I moved my hands saying, “Peek-a-boo!” followed by a wonderful giggle. Every single time. The second, fifth and tenth time I did this he responded with as much surprise as the first time.
Peek-a-boo does not have the same effect on us adults, yet it sometimes seems as though we try to close our eyes to suffering or brokenness, then react with peek-a-boo surprise when it jars our lives. Lent, the time of preparation for Holy Week and Easter, urges us to move beyond peek-a-boo with brokenness to face our lives and world with eyes wide open. Doing so with honesty as well as the hope God’s grace gives.
In Luke’s Gospel Jesus went up the mountain to pray and then went down to the plain or level place where he healed all who went to him and taught his followers (Luke 6:17-26). The word used for plain or level place in the Old Testament prophets often refers to places of brokenness, suffering, hunger and loss. Jesus went up the mountain to be closer to God, but then returned to the plain to share God’s healing with all and teaching lessons such as “love your enemies.”
Jesus demonstrated what it looks like to walk in faith in the plain place, our world filled with beauty, brokenness, joy, suffering, hurts and delights with eyes wide open. There was no covering eyes from the bad, yet he was also able to see the beauty in the midst of the broken. Peek-a-boo surprises did not stop Jesus from the mission he was on. As he journeyed on the plains, Jesus carried hope in powerful ways blessing others along the way.
Isn’t this what we as people of faith are called to do? Embrace the beauty and blessings around us, see what needs to be changed, and work towards that change while being a blessing as we journey in the plain? May we spend time with God in mountain moments and walk in our beautiful, conflicted, blessed, broken world with eyes wide open revealing a hopeful faith grounded in God’s redemptive love.
Greetings and wishes for a blessed 2019! With a new year under way we can face our journey with new hope and vision. We have been doing this at worship by focusing on the power of connection: being connected to God, to others and to ourselves more deeply. We each are given the gift of unique journeys filled with an array of experiences, blessings and talents, but it is in connections that our journeys take on greater depth and meaning.
Celebrating the legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. reminds us of the importance of working towards a society promoting healthy connections for all people. He explained, “Our goal is to create a beloved community and this will require a qualitative change in our souls as well as a quantitative change in our lives.” The qualitative change needs to happen by a redemptive love that creates possibilities of vitality and reconciliation.
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. beautifully articulated this saying, “Love is creative and redemptive. Love builds up and unites; hate tears down and destroys. The aftermath of the ‘fight with fire’ method … is bitterness and chaos, the aftermath of the love method is reconciliation and creation of the beloved community. Physical force can repress, restrain, coerce, destroy, but it cannot create and organize anything permanent; only love can do that. Yes, love—which means understanding, creative, redemptive goodwill, even for one’s enemies—is the solution to the race problem.” (Martin Luther King, Jr., The Role of the Church in Facing the Nation’s Chief Moral Dilemma, 1957)
Our present challenge is upon us in this new year: How will we employ creative and redemptive love to build a beloved community within and outside of our congregation? May we build deeper connections so that our lives make manifest the work of God’s creating, hopeful, redeeming love in the world.