I heard a true story about a 10-year-old girl that had been blind since birth. One day her doctor called and said they were set to do the operation that would give her full sight in both eyes.
The night before the operation, the girl and her family began wondering what she wanted to see first? She said first, her parents and her sister. Next was her room, the color red, pizza, the moon, a movie, and so on. After a while, there was a pause and then almost whispering, she said, "I want to see my face."
There was another pause and she said, "I want to see love." She had heard her parents tell her they loved her. She had felt them hug and kiss her in a loving way, but she had never seen love. She just knew you could see it.
As you read this, many Christian congregations will be experiencing the week before Easter morning -- Holy Week. It is a time filled to the brim with poignant Biblical readings pointing to visible expressions of God's unconditional love. We can also hear and see tragic examples of human conditional love. These are also the many ways human beings then and now try and manipulate God into doing only what they selfishly desire.
Centuries ago, an anonymous author wrote that the miracle of Easter was not just an empty tomb, but the truth is that Jesus didn't give up on us and go home. Jesus stayed and continued to visibly love unconditionally those men and women that had followed him, including those who had denied him and run away.
When we moved to Bella Vista in 2005, two of St. Theodore's parishioners were Bud and Evelyn Wrede. Just before Evelyn died, they celebrated their seventh wedding anniversary. They had their ups and downs but, at the end of the day, they could always say to one another, "I love the way you love me." Through them, we too could see love.
During the 2019 Lenten study at St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Springdale, I was asked to speak about marginalized people in America. I asked those present to name marginalized people or groups in the Bible and then in America today. I asked them where Jesus was? On our list of today, were those people living with HIV/AIDS (note: there was an increase in new infections during 2018).
I spoke about my 30 years of ordained ministry and my connections with the men, women and teenagers that had contracted this fatal virus. I had been a member of the Episcopal AIDS Coalition. A slogan of the group was, "Someone Jesus loves has AIDS."
These men, women and teenagers were marginalized by powerful political forces that thrived on irrational fears. Divine unconditional love has once again empowered rational dialog. Hope is seeping back into America. I believe I will once again see love. Love will overcome the hate raging our land.
Alleluia, Christ has risen!
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Ken Parks is the former rector of St. Theodore's Episcopal Church in Bella Vista. He can be reached by email to [email protected] Opinions expressed are those of the author.Religion on 04/17/2019
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