October 16, 2019
"Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten in God’s sight." (Luke 12:6). I'm in Kansas City, MO, right now, attending our denomination's Vital Congregations / 1001 New Worshiping Communities Conference. This conference is a double blessing for me, giving me both the opportunity to learn things in the Vital Congregations track which will serve First Presbyterian Church of Berthoud, and the opportunity to reconnect with many of my old friends from my earlier work in church-planting. Seeing their familiar faces, and feeling seen by them, has refreshed my spirit and renewed my heart.
Yesterday morning, the plenary speaker for the event, the Rev. Dr. Gregory Ellison, led us to a deeper appreciation for the value of such seeing. To show us the psychological effects of not feeling seen, or acknowledged, or heard by others, Ellison invited us to share in small groups about times when we'd each felt unseen, as though our presence didn't matter to others, and the pain and despair that followed. Then Ellison invited us to break into pairs and take "a long, loving look" at one another. I sat across from another pastor, a man from Texas who's been in ministry a few years longer than I have. Forced by the exercise to truly slow down and see him, I considered the years of service he'd given to the Church. I saw a husband, a father, a pastor. I saw a deeply beloved child of God. As he looked at me, I felt seen and acknowledged as well, recognized as someone with God-given gifts, as someone who was appreciated, and not merely tolerated. While moments before we had shared emotionally with one another about the pain of feeling unseen, now we were giving and receiving the gracious healing that comes through the surprisingly simple means of seeing and feeling seen.
"The Lord looks down from heaven upon humankind" in such a way that nothing and no one escapes his sight (Psalm 14:2). Though we might apply this reminder moralistically, as Psalm 14 goes on to do, Jesus also applies it compassionately. "Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten in God's sight. But even the hairs of your head are all counted. Do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows" (Luke 12:6-7). Where in your life have you felt unseen or unnoticed? Does it give you comfort to know that you are never forgotten in God's sight? Who in your life might need to feel the grace of being seen by God and by you today?
Grace and Peace,