SIMEON: Wherefore, having seen Him, not in some prophetic
vision of what might be, but with the eyes of our own
weakness as to what actually is, we are bold to say that
we have seen our salvation.
Chorus: He is the Way.
Follow Him through the Land of Unlikeness;
You will see rare beasts and have unique adventures.
He is the Truth.
Seek Him in the Kingdom of Anxiety;
You will come to a great city that has expected your return for years.
He is the Life.
Love Him in the World of the Flesh.
from W H Auden: For the Time Being (excerpts)
Pay Attention: A couple of weeks back in a Sustainability meeting with Lynnell and Rena, Lynnell shared a story of encountering a homeless man, probably a vet, during her walk around Lake Harriet. As I remember her story, he was pulling with him roller suitcases with his worldly goods, talking loudly to himself (or perhaps the Holy Spirit), and attempting to stay warm. Lynnell approached him, engaged in conversation, asked him if he needed anything, and determined that he was OK. He assured her that he needed to be outdoors. What followed was a great discussion about seeing the other in our daily encounters with the world, the challenges of homelessness, stepping outside of our comfort zones.
Pay Attention 2: Last week my wife, Linda, was driving west on Minnetonka and encountered a very intoxicated young man walking on the boulevard and sidewalk, at risk for being hit by the cars speeding around him. Linda stopped and got out of the car, gently moved him onto the sidewalk, and called 911 for assistance. Very soon thereafter, a postman stopped and assisted, and then another driver all reaching out to this young man to keep him safe until the police arrived. I was touched by Linda’s courage, and the others that then stopped to assist. Linda saw this young man at risk, seeing him, and stepping out of her comfort zone.
Pay Attention 3: Several weeks ago my friend Daniel Romero, working at the Council of Churches received a call engaging him with an Ecuadorian family that had just arrived by bus from New York, homeless, unemployed, a Refugee Parole. Daniel reached out to them, engaged Rena and a team of friends to be helpful. (You can read more of this story in detail from Rena). Most importantly, Daniel saw them, as human beings in crisis. Daniel also engaged a large circle of faithful people to work together to support and welcome these families to our neighborhoods.
We don’t have to go far to find Jesus in the face of our neighbors. On a walk, running errands, or in our workplace. We don’t have to participate in a formal program, food kitchen, homeless shelter, or political process to see the face of Jesus in the other people we encounter every day. Bishop Tutu teaches that ‘I am human because I belong, I participate, I share, and that I am because we are together in the image of God’.
These examples have been sitting on my heart for days… soon, but not yet, we will again celebrate the gift of heaven manifest in the birth of Jesus; Immanuel or Emmanuel in Hebrew, God with us, or God is with us. Will we engage this gift, truly see this gift and welcome into our hearts, or will be once again pass by.
Leonard Cohen is one of my favorite modern prophets, considering his lines below, I trust that when I am blind and cannot see that members of the beloved community like Linda, Lynnell, Rena or Daniel will not pass me by.
Oh, please don’t pass me by (A Disgrace) by Leonard Cohen
I was walking in New York City, and I brushed
Up against the man in front of me
I felt a cardboard placard on his back
And when we passed a streetlight
I could read it, it said:
“Please don’t pass me by – I am blind
But you can see –
I’ve been blinded totally – Please
Don’t pass me by”
I was walking along 7th Avenue
When I came to 14th Street
I saw on the corner curious
Mutilations of the human form
It was a, a school for handicapped people
And there were cripples
And people in wheelchairs and crutches
And it was snowing
And I got this sense that the
Whole city was singing this:
Oh please, don’t pass me by
And you know as I was walking, I thought
It was them who were singing it
I thought it was they who were singing it
I thought it was the other who was singing it
I thought it was someone else
But as I moved along I knew it was me
And that I was singing it to myself
It went: Please don’t pass me by
Oh please, don’t pass me by, yeah
For I am blind, but you, you can see
Well, I’ve been blinded totally
Oh please, don’t pass me by
I encourage you in your daily lives to seek Jesus in all creation, others will follow your light.