By Pastor Jeff Fox-Kline
My understanding of God is very wrapped up in my understanding of people. One of the most important things we read in the Bible is that humans are made in the image of God. Human beings are made to reflect that image to each other. God made us to look like God, and that means that when we see each other, we also see God. An outgrowth of our understanding of God as a trinity means that God exists naturally in community. Being made in the image of God means that we reflect God to each other, and that like God, we need to exist in community.
I’ve had a really hard year this past year. A large part of that is because of my understanding of God being so wrapped up in people.
When God lives most visibly in the face of those around us, it gets harder to see God when you aren’t seeing the faces. Phone calls and Zoom meetings have been good. They have been. Email correspondence has been wonderful. I’ve been able to keep in touch with people in real and abiding ways.
But it’s been hard not being able to physically be with people. If you see God in other people, then not being around people makes it harder to see God. What this means is that I have had to think about God differently. Seeing God in other places, learning more about myself and how I can find God in solitude, nature, family relationships, technology etc…
But even still, I’ve missed seeing God’s face in the face of my friends and family. I’ve missed it terribly.
But things are changing. The pandemic is not over, and as a parent with an unvaccinated child, I get offended when people say it is. But even still, things are changing. I’m seeing friends more often. I’m outside, at playgrounds, in backyards, and I’m remembering what it means to share space with a person outside of my family. I’ve been able to visit people in their homes or in their backyards. I’ve gotten lunch with members of the congregation (and please let me know if you want to get lunch with me. The answer is yes). I got to deliver communion and share the bread and cup with members who were not able to be in the sanctuary on Sunday.
And there were people in the sanctuary on Sunday. Let’s not forget that. But for me, the holiest part of that was not seeing people, though I liked that. For me, the holiest parts of that morning were watching people see each other. Seeing friends and acquaintances reconnect after not seeing each other for over a year was beautiful. I could see God in the way they were looking at each other, seeing each other again, remembering what the act of physical community looks like.
I’m glad that I am now able to expand my vision of God. I’m thankful for the fact that I have learned how to value "virtual" community as just a different way of being true community. I’m glad for that, and I’m glad for the image of God I saw manifest on Sunday.
The pandemic is not over. We can’t give up yet. But the sunlight peeks through the clouds and God’s image becomes clearer all over.