I wanted to share one other encounter in the nursing home chapel this past week. As I went around shaking hands, I tried to make eye contact and said things like, “God bless you!” or “Have a Merry Christmas!”
One gentlemen sat expressionless in his wheel chair, waiting for his turn to be pushed back to his room. (No matter how lovely and compassionate the nurses and assistants are, I still wonder if these folks sometimes feel like a toy being put back in the toy box for the night when they’re wheeled back to their rooms one by one.)
Anyways, so I bent down and looked him in the eyes, shook his hand, and said:
“Hey there. It’s great to see you!”
He slowly turned his gaze upward, and muttered softly:
“Its great to be seen, too.”
Boom. My heart was pierced.
Its easy to rush through our days and bump into or walk by dozens of people — gas station clerk, coworker in next cubicle, our own spouse and children — and never stop to look them in the eyes and truly “see” them. Have you been truly “seen” today?
We’ve been talking a lot about the ministry of “presence” at MainStreet lately — God’s presence in particular. I mentioned the awful experience of “God’s withdrawal” that sometimes results from our sins. The message of Isaiah’s gospel includes God “tearing open the heavens” to “come down” to be with us. Jesus is called Emmanuel, which means “God with us.” Mike Fox beautifully unpacked this theme of God’s desire to sit down with us and be with us on Wednesday night at Agape. (Read his reflection here.)
Last Sunday I closed the service with the well-known Aaronic benediction that asks God to “make his face shine upon you” and “turn his face toward you” and “give you His peace.” How intentional and descriptive are these divinely inspired verbs?
In Christ, God has ultimately shone his face of love upon us. On the cross “while we were yet sinners,” Romans 5 says, God turned his face toward us with forgiveness and an embrace; while at the same time hiding His face from his Son on the cross (“My God…why have you forsaken me?”) as Jesus willingly experienced the horror of God’s withdrawal on our behalf as he bore the full weight of all the world’s sins. Because of Jesus’ self-giving, sin-absorbing act of love, Romans continues, “we now have peace with God.”
I sometimes rush out after the chapel service, and on to my next meeting, without stopping to mingle. I’m so glad I took the time to bend down, look this man in the eyes, took his hand in mine, and said those Christ-saturated, gospel-oozing words, “It’s good to see you.”
May you truly see this Christmas the Son of God who is bending down low to look you in the eyes — you and I, sitting helpless as this man in the wheel chair in our own paralyzed states. May you behold his glorious face, full of grace and truth, and look into His eyes full of concern and hear Him say to you: “It’s great to see you today!”
And all God’s people responded: “And its great to be seen by you!”
If this post moved you, please join us this Sunday at 5pm at Lake Minnetonka Shores as we’ll sing Christmas songs and visit folks in the dining area at Lake Minnetonka Shores. Even if you can’t sing, you can shake a hand and look them in the eye and tell them, “It’s good to see you!”