“Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:37 – 40
Last Thursday I was out in my backyard garden checking on how things were doing and seeing if there was anything that needed done when I saw a shadow out of the corner of my eye. I quickly turned to see what it was just as a hawk landed not 8 feet away from me on my fence. As soon as the Hawk landed s/he turned and looked directly at me. We stood there the two of us staring at one another for what seemed like an eternity but was in reality only about 30 seconds or so. In that moment it seemed to me that this hawk was saying: “I see you, do you see me?” I am not sure why I had that distinct impression maybe it was because the lectionary reading for this past Sunday was what is known as the walk to Emmaus.
This particular passage occurs after Jesus’ death and before his resurrection is well known among his followers. It has two people, walking away from Jerusalem and they are in a fog of negative emotions as they grieve what they have lost: Jesus. Jesus who was their friend and mentor and in this fog of emotions, who comes along but Jesus himself. And yet even though they see Jesus, they don’t see Jesus. They do not recognize him. It isn’t until they pressure him to stay with them for dinner and Jesus breaks the bread that they realize it has been Jesus with them all along. They just couldn’t “see” him.
I wonder how many times do we see and yet don’t see the world around us? How many times do we see but don’t see the people around us? How many times do we miss opportunities because we just don’t see what is right in front of us? Many times the reason for our blindness is that we are too wrapped up in ourselves. We can’t see beyond what is important to us and our own agendas. Or we can’t see beyond our over full calendar as we race from event to event or activity to activity becoming more and more addicted to the drug of busyness. Or maybe we can’t see because we are too wrapped up in our own negative emotions to the point they have descended on us like a thick fog. For whatever reason, we go through life unseeing the beauty, the love, and the wonder that surrounds us every day. It seems we may all need glasses.
I am a part of a lectionary group with other pastors from various denominations. This past week one of them wondered about the prophetic voice. Specifically he wondered what is the prophetic voice saying about this time of Covid-19 where we are having to isolate ourselves from one another in order to keep from getting sick to the point we are seeing a massive impact on our economic health. Both the virus and its impact will change our entire world. But in thinking about the prophets and the words they said to Israel in times of dire distress, I wonder too, what is the prophetic voice saying to us now?
Would the voice say we should have an emergency fund of 6 months expenses so we can withstand economically against a global pandemic? Would the voice say we should monitor our time so we don’t live frazzled lives of busyness? I wonder if the prophetic voice in this time of distress wouldn’t ask: God sees you…do you see God? Do you see God in the beauty that fills the world through the animals and plants that live alongside us? Even more, do you see God in each individual that walks by you, beside you, or with you in life? Do you see them as God sees them? Do you see them as God sees you? Can we see past the hurts and other emotional scars to truly see people as God sees them?
Scripture teaches us that we are all made in the image of God and we are all fiercely loved by God. And yet we fight and quarrel with one another. We see reports of rape, murder, harassment, abuse, wars…all against other people. People who God sees and loves…people who God wants us to see and love…people who while they may look different than us still love, care, need, want, feel…just like us. Jesus was once asked: Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law? Jesus’ answer to the question: we are to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.” In order to love one another, we first must see one another. So I wonder if the prophetic voice coming out of this time of isolation might be to see the world and everything in it as God sees the world: as beautiful, valuable, and loved… every rock, plant, animal, and human.
On Thursday, a hawk saw me.