A New Lens
Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? – 1 Corinthians 3:16 (NIV)
After two years of living under the cloud of a global pandemic while finding creative and meaningful ways to do church and be church, some of us would answer Paul’s question with a loud “Duh!”
But just like the church leaders of Corinth, sometimes we too need to be reminded. Sometimes our behavior does not align with what we say we know to be true about God. We forget what is truly sacred and get caught up in what separates us from one another—instead of remembering the common Source of our very being. We assign worthiness to particular communities while stripping away the very humanity of others. We victim-blame and scapegoat. We ignore oppressive systems that don’t directly impact us. We retraumatize those who have been harmed with bad theology, and reduce our mission to simply being nice and respectable.
Too often, we can’t recognize God in our neighbor let alone in ourselves.
Fortunately for us, Lent provides us the space to remember and the opportunity to re-adjust our lenses—or get us some new ones. An anti-racist lens. A decolonial lens. An intergenerational lens. An anti-sexist lens. An LGTBQIA+ affirming lens.
Now go ahead, stand in the mirror and recognize God, and—in the words of Ntozake Shange—“Love her fiercely!”
Then go out and notice God in the man collecting your garbage. Recognize God in the young man shot down by the police. Celebrate God in the grandmother raising children…again. Notice God in the woman sleeping under the bridge. Acknowledge God in the youth standing on the corner. Know God in the stranger living with mental illness.
God is dwelling in our midst.
Enlighten the eyes of my heart, Lord. (Ephesians 1:18, adapted)
Marilyn Pagán-Banks (she/her/ella) is a queer womanist freedom fighter gratefully (though not always gracefully) serving as executive director of A Just Harvest, Senior Pastor at San Lucas UCC, and adjunct professor at McCormick Theological Seminary. She is a joyful contributor to The Words of Her Mouth.