Rev. Leslie Houseworth-Fields
– Harry Truman
I recently preached about the story of Jesus healing the ten lepers. I highlighted that “Jesus saw the men covered in scaly sores. He saw their blistered feet, their torn clothes, and their matted hair. He saw the men who had been isolated from their families, rejected by their friends, and scorned by the community. Jesus saw them standing on the sidelines of society, desperate for someone to take pity on them.” In this sermon, I encouraged us to see the people Jesus sees.
I was taught that a good sermon isn’t just for the congregation, but it’s one that works on the preacher as well. In the time since that sermon, I’ve tried very diligently to see people. Not just to notice them, but to pay attention to them; to see their humanity; to see them as God’s children. It’s so tempting to look away, especially in New York City. How many people do we pass on the street on any given day? Hundreds? Thousands? I’ve been walking around the city saying hello and nodding to strangers. Some people respond in kind. Others are completely weirded out. That’s just not what we do in this city. We keep our heads down or our eyes straight ahead.
I understand why. When we really open our eyes, we will sometimes see pain and suffering. It’s all around in this city and across the globe. I recently saw a special on the war in Yemen. I was devastated by the number of innocent people, especially children, who are starving and will die as a result of this conflict. While I was riveted by the story, I almost wished that I hadn’t seen it. It was heartbreaking. But Harry Truman reminds us that we cannot serve the least of these without first noticing them. Hearing their voices and seeing their plight.
So may we go through the seasons of Advent and Christmas doing our best to see as God sees. And may we respond with love and care, recognizing that what we do for the “least of these” we do for Jesus himself.
Prayer: Holy God, help me to see as you see. Amen.