On his blog Jep Hostetler introduced a person whom he bumped into on a recent trip. In this brief encounter his temporary companion became a teacher who taught him new things. He learned because of how he engaged her. He dared to ask this new black friend about how she felt toward “white privilege.” From what he learned he determined to be a part of ending racism and white privilege. Jep met Jesus, learned, and resolved to find new ways to become Jesus in his world.
I’ve been thinking about a little sentimental song Aunt Lizzie taught us in the preschool Sunday School class at Marion Mennonite Church. The song was “I think when I read that sweet story of old when Jesus was here . . . I should like to have been with him then.” Going back in time is not possible so the fulfillment of my childish wish is impossible. Yet, I have just written a series of posts about ways and means to encounter Jesus two thousand years later.
Today, Jesus may be encountered (1) where the weak and poor are helped, (2) where a community cares for its watershed and every living being in it, and (3) where muslim or other religionists act like Jesus. In his days in the flesh Jesus went about doing good, and he may be bumped into unexpectedly any time or place where good is being done. What we make of the encounter makes all the difference. Jep, for instance, could have brushed off thoughts about the person seated next to him and learned nothing, but he didn’t.
The word encounter has many shades of meaning. An encounter with Jesus may be a meaningful bump or an unwanted brush-off. An encounter can become a scornful clash of opposites or wonderful collaboration. A fruitful encounter with Jesus happens only to those who have ears to hear and eyes to see. To be conceited and self serving and to think that one knows it all is to be both blind and deaf.
Just now I am remembering a beautiful old prayer to the “Spirit Divine” that we used to sing in my congregation of origin:
- Open my eyes, that I may see, Glimpses of truth thou hast for me . . .
- Open my ears, that I may hear, Voices of truth Thou sendest clear . . .
- Open my mouth, and let me bear, Gladly the warm truth ev’rywhere . . .
- Open my heart, and let me prepare, Love with Thy children thus to share . . .
You may listen to the prayer/song by clicking here
Met Jesus today?
Where did you meet him, I ask?
Was it a surprise?