“But I don’t see Jesus!”

That is what little Ari, our granddaughter, said at bed time when we asked her whether she wanted to pray.  star-near-bethlehem-israel2[1]She hesitated or declined to say the prayers because she couldn’t “see” Jesus.  She had spent Christmas Day with us, along with siblings and parents, and then had stayed over that night.  After a long day of playing, eating, laughing, receiving gifts, playing some more, watching special Christmas programs on TV, it was time for bed.  But she didn’t want to pray to a Jesus she couldn’t see.

A part of me wanted to shift into analytic, apologetic mode and respond to the question of how to interact with the Divine who is invisible.   Another part of me, however, wanted to join her and say, “No kidding!”  It is sometimes hard to share with the unseen God, especially when the world we do see appears so dismal and dark, so discouraging and depressing, so deadly and despairing.  Indeed, “I don’t ‘see’ Jesus!”

While that may a good and appropriate kind of answer, I remembered again what day we had been celebrating.  The day when the invisible became visible, in the same way humans always experience, the very same way Ari’s family recently had experienced it.   After nine months of not-being-seen, labor started, and then delivery when suddenly there Avery was, the one we couldn’t see for so long but now can!  What a happy day!

I remembered the day when the invisible became visible, but not as anyone expected, not prophets, kings, or faithful people.  The visible appearance was in the form of an infant.

Which made me ponder whether the invisible-become-visible One ever thought or questioned the way Ari had.  Did that little boy ever say, “I don’t see Yahweh!”

Before you answer too quickly, factor in the ultimately mind-boggling reality of true incarnation—the invisible one truly entered into the human family, into the Joseph and Mary family.  Then, note that to enter in really meant being truly infant, then a small child maturing onward.  It meant not understanding, not seeing that there is more than one way of “seeing,” and probably not knowing until he learned that what cannot be “seen” with physical eyes can be more real than many things that can.  To enter in truly would have meant learning to observe and experience and recognize and love the unseen Father and the eternal throne awaiting the child’s maturity.  It meant interpreting and accepting the voice, touch, care and support of parents and family as expressions of deeper and more faithful currents of love that run everlastingly.  It meant discovering that underneath and behind and in all these physically seen and palpable gestures and words of love stood the ever-present Father whose embrace could indeed be felt, whose embrace eventually caused the word to form, well-up, and cry out, “Abba!”

I wish I had said, “You’re right sweetie, we can’t see Jesus with our eyes, just like we can’t see the wind.  But we can feel the wind and see what the wind does.  So, you can see your mommy and daddy and you feel their love.  When you see them and feel their love, not to mention Nana’s and Papa’s, Jesus is right there with you and loving you.  As you get bigger, you’ll learn other ways to see Jesus too, but this is a good place to start.”

Published by David Kendall

Reverend David W. Kendall, an ordained elder in the Great Plains Conference, was elected to the office of bishop of the Free Methodist Church in May 2005. He serves as overseer of East Michigan, Gateway, Great Plains, Mid-America, North Central, North Michigan, Ohio, Southern Michigan, Wabash, African Area Annual Conferences; and Coordinator of oversight for the World Ministries Center.

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