That’s how long it has been since we were last in one space together. How long it’s been since we passed bread from hand to hand, lifted our voices in unison, welcomed the children running back in into worship eager to share what they had learned about God while we listened to a sermon and prayed together.
And yet, it has been longer than that since some of those whom we love who have been able to join us in the sanctuary. Those who have received worship DVDs or have watched us on Channel 18 for years. Those who have long known what it means to be part of something from a distance and have courageously practiced the public discipline of worship, prayer, confession and stewardship week after week without the shelter of a large building and the ready companionship of hundreds of others.
Those who wish to see Jesus.
We probably don’t often think about it that way. But what is it that draws us out of our homes on the one day a week we could sleep in (during Normal-tide) and in pandemic draws us to our computers or cable channels that same day or at some heart-hungry time later in the week? Is it a longing for Jesus that moves us to bundle up and sit in our cars on a chilly bluff top listening to our FM radios?
We wish to see Jesus.
You might ask, why is this a sign we wish to see Jesus and not just God?
Because we who bear the name Christian, even nominally, know what we know about God through the narrative of the life, ministry, suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We know of God’s love and tenderness for our humanness because Jesus fed the hungry, healed the sick, and welcomed the outcast. We strive to be good Bible students and still what faith we might claim has been shaped such that we cannot hear the ancient stories and the wisdom of the prophets but through the filter of what God did in Jesus.
We wish to see Jesus because Jesus shows us what God looks like in relationship to human beings. It’s the same God—Old Testament or New. But in Jesus, we see God in the flesh; we meet in person the lovingkindness, compassion, passion, faithfulness and exhortation that we have a role to play in helping others see and experience the same liberation, inclusion and love of God that we know through Jesus Christ.
We do wish to see Jesus.
Jesus gives us the clearest picture of how to live, how to love and serve our neighbors, how to turn again and again to God for all that we need. Jesus sorts the priorities. Jesus tears down the confusing boundaries and barriers between people. Jesus blesses our humanity and shines his light on the humanity of others. Jesus points a way forward through the miasma of political rhetoric, cancel culture, ideological echo chambers, racism, economic dehumanization and nationalism.
And Jesus does something else. Jesus calls us into community as his body alive in the world. Whether we come streaming into the building on Sunday mornings or send our worship streaming into the world week after week (someday, both!), our gatherings, our public confession of sin, our congregational prayer, our admission of hunger as we come forward for bread—all of it is our witness to the world of our hope in a story that includes all of us. Every last one.
We do wish to see Jesus.
This Lenten journey we will seek Jesus and share our stories of Jesus sightings. Teaching each other how to see.
Hearts and eyes open in hope, beloveds.