A Face to Die For
“Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying, ‘Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation.'” – Luke 2:29-31
A boy named Eduardo stood looking over Rio de Janeiro as he talked with Robert Coles during an interview for Coles’ landmark research on the spiritual lives of children. Eduardo said, “If I had a choice to pick the way I’d die, I’d choose to be carried off by the wind over the ocean. I’d be made clean twice before I saw His face.
Coles was intrigued and asked what the boy meant. Eduardo whispered, “God’s face.” That ten-year-old shared the greatest human hope: to see the face of God.
Seeing the face of God in Jesus is also the promise of Christianity. The apostle Paul wrote: “God has given us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor. 4:6).
Likewise, when the elderly Simeon looked upon the face of baby Jesus he prayed, “My eyes have seen your salvation.”It was a bold thing to say. Up to that point no one had seen the face of God except Moses, also at the very end of his life. There’s a lesson here: The closer we are to birth or death, the more likely we are to see the face of God.
Seeing the face of God is our purpose. When we fulfill that task, regardless of our age, we die and we are reborn. The status quo dissolves under God’s loving attention.
Eduardo, Simeon and Moses saw that and rejoiced. Will you?
My heart says of You, “Seek God’s face!” Your face, Lord, I will seek. (Psalm 27:8)
Matthew Laney is the Senior Minister of Asylum Hill Congregational Church, UCC, in Hartford, Connecticut.