"The basic reality of God is plain enough. Open your eyes and there it is!" - Romans 1:19
I have a friend whose house looks out on an island. He said, "I don't need to go to church. I already know how to look at the island." He knows how to be awestruck, maybe even grateful. So why go to church?
Well, church teaches us to see more than beauty. It teaches us to see ourselves.
Each year at the end of my congregation's rummage sale homeless men and women shop "for free." My job is to guard the door while they assemble. Last summer there were about eighty people waiting and more than thirty minutes to wait. The crowd was restless. I folded my arms and tried to look stern. I felt scared.
The first man in line was rough, long ponytail, torn leather jacket. Tough as nails. We stood two feet from each other in dead silence. At least five minutes passed.
Then he spoke up. "You want to see a picture of my kids?" They were beautiful, of course. Twins. Two-year-old girls. He had about a dozen photos. "I'm here to get them beds. I'd wait all day." He smiled.
And when he did I saw him for who he truly was. And I saw my fear for what it truly was and I felt myself indicted and enlightened, both at once. That's what church can do. It can help us see the beauty all around us - and the brokenness inside us.
Dear God, break me open with your vision. Then let your beauty in. Amen.
Matt Fitzgerald is the Senior Pastor of St. Pauls United Church of Christ, Chicago, IL.