My childhood piano teacher would have his students listen to a piece of classical music. When we had heard it once, he would play it again and ask us to identify the individual instruments in each passage. It was a skill that took some time and practice but eventually we were able to identify flutes and clarinets; we could distinguish oboe from English horn, and trumpet from French horn. The strings were trickier for me and I never got really good at figuring out which was playing....except for the string bass. Its deep, rich tone made it easy to distinguish from the other instruments. I realized many years later that the skill he taught us was not limited to an ability to distinguish instruments. He was teaching us how to pay attention - to really watch and listen - to what was happening around us.
It's easy to see Jesus in the stories found in the Gospels. The Gospel writers give us the narratives of where Jesus went, who he talked with, and in some cases, with whom he ate. We can read about the miracles he performed, the times he went away to be with the disciples, or to pray. We read about his interactions with the religious and political leaders, and with those who had been outcast and marginalized.
As Christians today, I wonder sometimes if we watch for Jesus in our everyday lives. It's easy to see Jesus in some places: the birth of a new baby; a beautiful rainbow; a sunrise or a sunset. We may see Jesus in the faces of those we love. Perhaps we see Jesus in the actions of a kind person. But, are we attentive enough to see Jesus in the faces of the addicts and homeless who we see in the wash, or walking the sidewalks? Are we attentive enough to see Jesus in the face of those who are struggling to make ends meet? Do we see Jesus in those who are grieving, or lonely, or tired? Do we see Jesus in those who have become bitter because it seems that nothing ever works in their favor? It can be difficult to see Jesus in the hard places of life, but I believe that we can see Jesus there, if we look carefully. One of my favorite Scripture passages helps me understand this.
"I was hungry and you fed me, I was thirsty and you gave me a drink, I was homeless and you gave me a room, I was shivering and you gave me clothes, I was sick and you stopped to visit, I was in prison and you came to me.' Then those 'sheep' are going to say, 'Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?' Then the King will say, 'I'm telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me - you did it to me.'" (Mt. 35:35-40, The Message)
Just as identifying individual instruments became easier as I knew what I was listening for, seeing Jesus in the world becomes easier when we know who we are looking to see. Join us this Sunday at 9 & 10:30 a.m. as we explore the question, "Where's Jesus?"