How Do You See the Face of God?
Stefan Waligur is a Christian contemplative in the 21st century who composes, sings, and leads musical meetings or retreats with Taizé-type music and sensibility. When he starts a song, he calls out a line and the group is asked to sing it back in response, and then keeps it running and running and running—in a very good way—until he senses it is time to wrap it up. He has a beautiful voice and a self-deprecating sense of humor that engages and hooks a congregation or group almost without their knowing it. Kind of like a pied piper.
I see pain, survivors of accidents and divorces, persons who’ve had addictions and public humiliations, wheelchairs and walkers, hunched backs and unkempt hair.
One of his songs goes: “When I look in your eyes . . . when I see your face . . . I see the face of God.”
I was asked recently where I see God, or how I love God—I can’t remember the exact wording. Those of us who have been longtime Christians and belong to churches where being confronted point-blank with a question like that or an opportunity to put our personal faith into words—to “testify”—might struggle with that question. We live our faith, we read the Bible, we study it, we engage in conversation on related topics, but when it gets back to that basic question, how do we express it?
One of the ways I answered that in my head was that I see the face of God in the “motley crew” I find when I look around at my church. If your church is anything like mine—where people come not because of stained glass or impressive architecture or a wall-rattling organ or even the most fashionable clothing—I see pain, survivors of accidents and divorces, persons who’ve had addictions and public humiliations, wheelchairs and walkers, hunched backs and unkempt hair (some would likely call my own hair messy).
Yet these people are a church family who on any given Sunday roll out of bed and pull themselves together to assemble and worship an eternal God who somehow sent part of that godly being to earth to live among humans and suffer and die because of an abiding love for this motley crew. Over the years I have heard many of the faith stories of these people as they have joined the church—and I am always most moved by those who either did not grow up in the church or came to true faith later in life after a period of doubt and unbelief. Perhaps it was a son or daughter who influenced them to come to church. Perhaps it was a friend who invited them and they found love, acceptance, and a family they were missing in life. Perhaps it was simply picking up a Bible in a home, prison, or motel and—despite how difficult the Old Testament is sometimes to read and understand—found compelling words in the New Testament and in the words of Jesus printed in red.
God still moves among us in amazing ways.
I also see the face of God in persons who come to the clothes closet at our church—just one of the ways we live our faith and respond to God’s love. The faces there are brown, white, and black—speaking Arabic, Spanish, English, and sometimes Russian or other languages. As we share kindness and clothes, eyes express joy, thankfulness, gratitude, appreciation, exhaustion, guilt, jealousy, and sometimes pain. Many share their own faith in return by wishing us God’s blessing. Sometimes clients bring clothing to share, refreshments, and a willingness to volunteer on a regular basis to hang or bag clothes or to straighten up and put away hangers and more.
How do you see the face of God?
Some of my church or blogging friends have kept a gratitude journal, especially in this season leading through Thanksgiving and up to Christmas, as a reminder to be more thankful than tied up in the huge crush of materialism that is (unfortunately) Christmas. Perhaps this question, “How did I see the face of God today?” (for evening meditators), or a morning prayer, “Lord, help me see your face today,” would be another way to be tuned to the face and voice of God in new ways.
I’d love to hear from you on how you see the face of God: please share in the comment section of our webpage, by email to MelodieD@MennoMedia.org, or write to Another Way, 1251 Virginia Ave., Harrisonburg, VA 22802.