I sought my soul, but my soul I could not see.
I sought my God, but my God eluded me.
I sought my brother, And I found all three.
- William Blake
“And as for the outsiders who now follow me, working for me, loving my name, and wanting to be my servants— All who keep Sabbath and don’t defile it, holding fast to my covenant— I’ll bring them to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer. They’ll be welcome to worship the same as the ‘insiders,’ to bring burnt offerings and sacrifices to my altar. Oh yes, my house of worship will be known as a house of prayer for all people.” The Decree of the Master, God himself, who gathers in the exiles of Israel: “I will gather others also, gather them in with those already gathered.”
- Isaiah 56.6-8 (The Message)
When he finished speaking to the people, he entered Capernaum. A Roman captain there had a servant who was on his deathbed. He prized him highly and didn’t want to lose him. When he heard Jesus was back, he sent leaders from the Jewish community asking him to come and heal his servant. They came to Jesus and urged him to do it, saying, “He deserves this. He loves our people. He even built our meeting place.” Jesus went with them. When he was still quite far from the house, the captain sent friends to tell him, “Master, you don’t have to go to all this trouble. I’m not that good a person, you know. I’d be embarrassed for you to come to my house, even embarrassed to come to you in person. Just give the order and my servant will get well. I’m a man under orders; I also give orders. I tell one soldier, ‘Go,’ and he goes; another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; my slave, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” Taken aback, Jesus addressed the accompanying crowd: “I’ve yet to come across this kind of simple trust anywhere in Israel, the very people who are supposed to know about God and how he works.” When the messengers got back home, they found the servant up and well.
- Luke 7.1-10 (The Message)
Last week we began a sermon series entitled:
Seeing through God’s Eyes
“The eye through which I see God is the same eye through which God sees me;
my eye and God's eye are one eye, one seeing, one knowing, one love."
(Subtitle by Meister Eckhart)
This series is intended to provide fresh insight into the nature of vision in a spiritual sense, because we at OPCC have recently embraced a new vision of ministry. To live into that vision – to commit ourselves to that vision – we must understand that it is not simply a slogan suggested by a consultant, a description our leaders put together one evening over coffee, or hastily prepared cliff notes about an article someone read in an obscure magazine.
Vision in a spiritual sense represents the discernment of God’s view of us, God’s yearnings for us, and what we can be as we move into the future. Cervantes in The Man of La Mancha describes vision as “seeing life as it should be” rather than seeing it “as it is.” Meister Eckhart describes vision as “seeing through God’s Eyes.” In less eloquent language, we defined it last week as the difference between “eyesight,” and “Insight,” or “insightful understanding” of life that far surpasses what the eye can see by penetrating to God’s view, to life as it should be, to seeing through God’s eyes. Helen Keller summarized this difference succinctly and profoundly in saying that “The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.
We at OPCC want vision beyond eyesight, the discernment of God’s will for us to which we may sincerely cling and proudly commit our efforts. This week we will reflect on the first of five core values in our vision statement – Valuing and accepting everyone – and its relationship to the first characteristic of vision; insight.
I think you will agree that opening ourselves to the widest possible range of “others,” those who differ from we insiders: culturally, ethnically, politically, financially, in their sexual choice of partner, Christian denomination or even religion altogether; opening ourselves to such others requires a significant insight into its origin in God; because, let’s face it, the very thought pushes us far beyond our comfort zone.
Here’s a spoiler alert. We tend to think that acceptance of others – as mismatched and different as they may be - requires a significant sacrifice of us; so significant, in fact, that we think of ourselves as martyrs. Otherwise stated, we share of our fullness so that they may find some sense of fulfillment. But what if this simply was not true? What if we are not whole until we reach out to others?
What if wholeness – in God’s eyes – cannot be conceived in any way other than being in relationship, in community? What if William Blake is right in the worship heading above, that we find neither ourselves nor God… until we find our neighbor? We will examine this possibility on Sunday. Join us, won’t you?