Saturday, March 22, 2008

Open Eyes

I have just returned from a week in inner-city Memphis for a mission trip with a handful of students. It was an eye-opening experience, to say the least. I am in full-time ministry and I am pretty sure I had lost sight of who Jesus is. I was reminded of that old worship song "Open Our Eyes, Lord, we want to see Jesus.." as I prepared for the week. I love the melody and the words of that song. As I came to understand Jesus more in my life, the words started haunting me. So much that I remember wanting to stand up in the middle of the service I was attending and ask how many people really meant what they were singing. Do we really want to see Him? He is dirty, cold, hungry, and thirsty. Is that the Jesus we are looking for these days?

That is the Jesus we look for when we are on a mission trip like the one I was on last week. Then we see Him everywhere. I saw him in a thousand places last week. I saw him in the 24-year old woman we worked for who is struggling to raise her four children and many of her own siblings. I saw him in my friends from seminary who are reaching out to the young people in their inner-city Memphis neighborhood. I saw him in an older man with the saddest eyes I have ever seen. He lives in an abandoned car wash and wakes up each day shaking violently, desperate for a drink. I saw him everywhere.

I am home now and hope that I my eyes stay open so that I can see Jesus in my everyday. This is where it counts. I say that not to diminish the work done last week (and throughout the year through Service Over Self). But it is only fleeting if it only lasts for a week or so here and there. It has to translate into our daily lives. Jesus is all around us - hungry, thirsty, dirty, cold, and broken. Sometimes in the most unlikely places. He is in that woman you see everyday at work who seems to have it all together. Or maybe in the man who holds it all together each day for his family, but is dying inside because of some secret addiction. That child who feels isolated and unloved at home and at school. And yes, sometimes He looks like what I saw last week in inner-city Memphis.

There's this old quote that I love. I wrote it out for my mom years ago and she still has it on her bulletin board at home. I wrote it in a fun sort of font because that is the way I understood it then. The quote reads, "People see God everyday, they just don't recognize Him..." (Pearl Bailey). It carries new meaning today. I hope I will recognize Him...

Monday, March 03, 2008


"Gracious Father, whose blessed Son Jesus Christ came down from heaven to be the true bread which gives life to the world: Evermore give us this bread, that he may live in us, and we in him; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen." - Book of Common Prayer

This prayer appeared in my Lenten Reader today and really spoke to me. I've come across it before and each time it speaks to me. I love the old language, "Evermore give us...". I am not sure I can explain it, but it awakens something in me. With this sentence, all of the names of Jesus come alive for me. I think not only of Jesus as "Bread of Life," but also as "Living Water," "Vine," "Good Shepherd," and the countless other names of our Lord. Evermore give me this Christ who satisfies hunger, quenches thirst, initiates growth, seeks us out...and provides all I need. Let me be at rest with this One; Savior and Lord of all.