Is it cold where you are? Are your fingers and toes chilly as you encounter the winter winds? How about your heart? Is it icy cold and closed or warm and tender, open to the needs of others?
For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’…40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
Matthew 25:35-36, 40 – NIV
I closed the back door quickly, shutting out the cold. The bitter February wind was blowing, and I wanted my escape.
Turning to survey my kitchen, I smiled. The air felt warm, the room familiar. Warm, safe and dry…just how I like it.
I strolled to the fireplace and turned on my gas logs. Instant flames, warm glow, I sighed with relief. Grabbing my JMU blanket, I plopped my weary frame into my favorite chair. “Ahh!” Cozy, comfortable…Home, sweet home.
Staring into the flickering flames, a thought struck me. Turning to look at my now closed door, I wondered. How many doors have I closed in my life? In my quest for warm, safe and dry, have I missed opportunities to connect? Have I rushed past someone in need as I singlemindedly pursued my comfort zone?
Did I slam the door on potential relationships in my haste to finish my to do list? Did I shut out someone because they looked or acted differently from me? Did I avoid a conversation because I disagreed with their viewpoint? In my effort to avoid conflict, did I also avoid connection?
Were there opportunities offered that I ignored? Was God putting someone in my path for me to help, but I spent my time helping myself instead?
How much have I missed because I refused to see? How much did I miss because I chose not to look?
Perhaps it’s time to open. To open my eyes to the opportunities. To open my mind to different perspectives. To open my heart to others. To see what Jesus sees. To love the way Jesus loves. To walk the way Jesus walks.
In the 13th century, Richard of Chichester wrote a powerful soul opening prayer, that was abbreviated and popularized by the 1960’s musical, “Godspell.”
“O Dear Lord,
Three things I pray,
To see you more clearly,
To love you more dearly,
And follow you more nearly,
Day by day.”
My pastor shared this prayer with our congregation and called us to meditate on how we can adopt the practices of this prayer. How can we see, love, follow Christ in 2020?
Just a few weeks ago, I called for us to lean into love as we began this new year. Listening to my pastor and pondering this ancient prayer, I was struck by the connection between my previous ponderings and these spiritual practices.
So today, I issue a challenge to you and to me. In the coming year, what do I need to change to open my eyes to the needs around me? What can I do to open my heart to others with a spirit of love, peace and hope? What do I need to do differently so that I might open my arms wide to embrace others regardless of our differences? How can I set my feet firmly on the path that follows Jesus? How can I better serve our Lord in 2020?
Join me in this quest to see, love and follow.
Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.
Hebrews 13:15-16 – NIV
Lord, help us open our eyes, our minds, our hearts and our arms to what You are calling us to do to serve You. Lord, let us