5/17/20 Crystal Springs Zoom Worship
By David Irby
Supplies: hand mirror.
I love this Normal Rockwell painting of the girl looking in the mirror to see how she looks in comparison to the glamor model in the magazine she is holding. When you look in a mirror what do you see? You see yourself and the features that make you recognizable as you. Your eyes, nose, mouth.
Sometimes you see a family resemblance. For example, my long, thin face and bald head come directly from my mother’s father. My fair skin that burns every summer in the sun comes from my red headed mother. And at a deeper level, I see within me my father’s leadership skills and love of others combined with my mother’s passion for learning and compassionate love for others.
When you look at someone else in the mirror what do you see? The answer is about the same. You see features that make them recognizable. Their eyes, nose, mouth. Sometimes you see family resemblance.
For example, when we see Leah’s son Emanuel, we see his tall, thin frame, blue eyes and thin blond hair, like his father Mattias. We also see that he eats like a horse and has a high metabolism rate like his father. His preschool teachers would say that Emanuel could eat three times what the other children would eat – and yet he is as skinny as a rail. Our Swedish grandson!
Let’s take another look in the mirror at others and look beyond the physical features and family resemblances. Maybe look in their eyes in the mirror. What do you see?
If you look deeper, you see their character or their personality that is inside of them. For example, Emanuel exudes excitement, affection and extravagant love for everyone – like his mother Leah. In a reserved Swedish culture, Emanuel stands out for his greetings to everyone. So, if we look at the inside of someone else we might see love, concern or even hate. When we read their inner feelings or intentions, we might feel a sense of love, or concern or even fear. As a result, we might feel an instant connection and trust, or the opposite. We sometimes try to name these feelings. So we might say that she is beautiful on the inside and the outside – meaning that her love and compassion for others radiates from her. We are sensing what is on the inside of her.
Our scripture this morning says that God is within each of us. Sometimes we refer to it as seeing the face of Jesus in ourselves or in the other person. That’s pretty easy when we are sitting in church, but what if the other person is not nice, is a bully on the playground or is abusive at work. That’s where we need God’s help.
[next slide] John 14:15-21 says:
15 “If you love me, obey my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. 17 He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you. 18 No, I will not abandon you as orphans—I will come to you. 19 Soon the world will no longer see me, but you will see me. Since I live, you also will live. 20 When I am raised to life again, you will know that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. 21 Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. And because they love me, my Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal myself to each of them.”
That’s a pretty complicated paragraph, but the main point is that God is in us and in all of us. It also says that God is an Advocate, meaning that God’s Spirit is with us to help us all the time, including when it is hard to see God in ourselves or another person. An advocate speaks up on our behalf and supports us. An advocate empowers us by helping us access God’s love. This is what Jesus did on behalf of the poor and dispossessed of his time. We each have an Advocate for us.
Let’s look at ourselves in the mirror and say, “I can see God within me!” Let’s also look at others in the mirror and say, “I can see God within you!”
[Next slide] Now we have come to the place in the service where we can share our own reflections. In light of this scripture, think about:
- When you have experienced God’s Spirit in you, and/or
- Where you have seen God’s Spirit in someone else?
I will begin. When I saw these two questions, I immediately thought of my father, who used to say: “I like me best when I feel God’s Spirit in me.” I feel the same way. When I feel God’s Spirit (which I recognize is always being there even though I don’t always feel it), I am a much better person than I am when I don’t feel that touch.
I have found a neighbor and walking buddy, and I have felt God’s love for him. This may seem easy but I should mention that he is a staunch Trump supporter and Fox News listener. As you might imagine, we have almost nothing in common in terms of our views on politics or on what we read or listen to. Yet, I experience a deep appreciation for him and we can dialog civilly because I see God’s Spirit in him. As a result, it moderates my uncharitable and disparaging remarks when I want to go ballistic and despair at what I am seeing nationally. God’s Advocate changes me or at least moderates my worst impulses. I need God’s Advocate to help me become the person I should be.