They’ll Know We Are Christians

“Walk joyfully on the earth and respond to that of God in every human being.”
George Fox

“The Hebrew Bible in one verse commands, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself,’ butin no fewer than 36 places commands us to ‘love the stranger.”
Jonathan Sacks

Take thirty seconds right now and try to visual the last person who served or assisted you today (or yesterday if you haven’t left your house yet today).  What color is their hair?  Their eyes? Do they have dark skin or pale skin? Any noticeable tattoos or piercings? What were they wearing?

My last encounter was with a waiter/bartender at Grand Cru (527 East Belvedere Avenue Baltimore, MD) last night when I met up with a friend for a drink (or in my case a glass of tap water with lemon).  He was an average looking 24-26 year old with the just out of college look (if you know what I mean).  Clean cut, brown hair, brown eyes, no tats, no piercings, and a well groomed goatee. He had a dark gray long sleeve cotton shirt and jeans.   I even remember his name, but let’s not completely out this guy on my blog:)

Kind of sounds like I was stalking this guy—but seriously, I wasn’t. I was just noticing.  I spent the afternoon working on my sermon for the 11am worship service (a monologue of the woman at the well in John 4).  The power in the story for me, this day, as I read the text lies in the power of being seen and being truly known.   Jesus takes to listen not just to the words being spoken, but to the unspoken (her body posture and the feelings that are underneath those words. It is through this deep listening, of being heard, and of being truly seen that this woman realizes she is loved.

I definitely don’t want to hear the intimate details of each person’s life that I encounter, but I do want to see them.  And I want them to know that I see them.  Barbara Brown Taylor is such a gifted author and I can’t help but give her a shout out for her book, “An Altar in the World.”  In chapter 6, The Practice of Encountering Others, BBT covers a lot of ground.  But at the heart of her message is this: we are not the center of the universe and we need to get over ourselves.  OUCH!!  This is a message that stings.  It is a message counter to our culture and how Americans perceive themselves personally and ourselves as a nation.

BBT writes “…the hardest spiritual work in the world… is to love the neighbor as the self… to encounter another human being… not as someone you can use,  change, fix, save, or otherwise control… but simply as someone who can spring you from the prison of your ‘self.’ To empathize with someone… to become that person, even for a moment… is to understand what it means to die to your self. This can be frightening…it can be disturbing… but it also is liberating.”

This, like all of BBT practices, doesn’t require equipment, just your full attention.  She writes, ““The next time you go to the grocery store, try engaging the cashier. You don’t have to invite her home for lunch or anything…  but take a look at her face…  while she is trying to find “arugula” on her laminated list of produce.  Here is someone who exists even when she is not ringing up your groceries. As hard as it may be for you to imagine….  she is someone’s daughter, maybe someone’s mother as well. She has a home she returns to when she hangs up her apron here, a kitchen that smells of last night’s supper, a bed where she occasionally lies awake at night wrestling with her own demons and angels.  You don’t have to go too far with this. It is enough for you to acknowledge her when she hands you your change. You saved eleven dollars and six cents by shopping at Winn Dixie today, she says, looking right at you. All that is required of you is to look back. Just meet her eyes for a moment… and say, ‘Thanks.’”

She continues,”“Sometimes that is all another person needs… to know that she actually has been seen… seen… not as the cashier but as a person. And even if she doesn’t seem to notice… the encounter still has occurred. You noticed. You noticed… and because you did, neither of you will ever be quite the same again.”

Take time to notice.  Jesus took time to notice a lonely woman at a well and it made all the difference.

 

They’ll Know We Are Christians

We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord
We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord
And we pray that all unity may one day be restored
And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love
They will know we are Christians by our love

We will work with each other, we will work side by side
We will work with each other, we will work side by side
And we’ll guard each one’s dignity and save each one’s pride
And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love
They will know we are Christians by our love

We will walk with each other, we will walk hand in hand
We will walk with each other, we will walk hand in hand
And together we’ll spread the news that God is in our land
And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love
They will know we are Christians by our love

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