A recent story caught my attention about a man who saw an image, on a light pole outside his home, of Jesus crucified . I took a quick glance at the story and saw a light pole that had growing vines on it, if you looked at it in particular angle it looked like an image of a crucifix. I quickly moved on, thinking that this was no different than many other stories of people seeing Jesus in toast, pancakes, clouds, and their pet's fur.
Then I began to think about how easy it is for people to see Jesus in these unlikely ways. It is almost as if they are looking for it, longing to find this image as a sign of something. Many times these "sightings" become unofficial holy sites, sacred places where people gather to find healing of body, mind, and spirit. Why this longing?
Jesus said that his followers would be known by their love. This love and its radical call, to even love our enemies, would be the sign of Jesus' presence in the world. Loving, in the midst of difficulty, disagreement, and stress is even more difficult. In order to help us in this loving Jesus gave us a meal as the way in which we could continually become love for the world.
In the last few weeks we have had a "news fest" around issues of religion, or with religious undertones. We have heard about an Islamic Center in New York, a continued immigration struggle in Arizona, and a "take our country back" crusade in Washington D.C. Faith leaders from all walks of life have commented, editorialized, and made observations. On the news we have seen disagreement and extremely divided rhetoric.
While all of this is going on there are those who are seeing Jesus in the most unlikely places. At first I was a skeptic, like others I believed that these people seeing these things were just crazy! But then I turned the channel and heard another person speak hatred and division in the name of Jesus. I just shook my head in disbelief and sadness. Why can't we disagree lovingly? Am I being naïve, lacking courage, or uncommitted?
Then I thought about the words of Jesus when he entered Jerusalem on a colt and the people could not stop praising him. The pharisees wanted Jesus to stop the people from proclaiming him as the one who came in God's name. To this he replied"if these were silent, the stones would shout out." (Luke 19:40)
Maybe we are spending too much time fighting, arguing, and trying to make a point instead of loving. I know that I am guilty of this myself. I too fall short of being Jesus' image in the world. I am sure many times Jesus on a sticky bun would have been better than me!
Let us not be silent! May we as God's people rest in the peace that God offers us and continue to strive to be known by our love. Always remembering that when we are love silent "the light poles will cry out!"