By now most of you have heard of the experiment in which subjects are asked to watch a video in which people are passing a basketball. The viewers are told to count the number of times the people dressed in white pass the ball to each other. After the short video viewers are asked if they saw anything unusual as they counted the passes. Most people say they did not notice the huge gorilla that walked across the screen.
This experiment and many like it show that most of the time we don’t see what we’re not looking for. This is why it is so common for those driving cars to “not see” a motorcycle or bicycle until after they’ve run into one. Check out a cyclist awareness video similar to the one mentioned above:http://bikeportland.org/2008/
Such “blindness” means we will not see the presence of God in our lives if we are not trained to look for it. Reading the Bible every Sunday reveals Christ, the Word of God incarnate. Celebrating Holy Communion reveals the Risen Christ in ordinary bread and wine. Theologian James Alison says, “the bread and the wine do not hide a secret divine presence, such that if only we could peel away the disguise, we would find the real thing: Quite the reverse: materiality is not a disguise, it is what enables that which is invisible to be seen.” He says the bread and wine are the opposite of Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak, because they take what is invisible and make it visible.
Christ is always present in our beautiful church because the sacrament is reserved in the tabernacle, which is the small wooden box mounted on the wall to the right of the altar. When the candle above it, called the sanctuary lamp, is burning we know the Risen Christ is present with us and for us. Episcopal priest and author Cynthia Bourgeault says she experiences power coming out of the tabernacle.
At the chapel at Emery House, run by the Episcopal Society of Saint John the Evangelist, as the monks enter and exit they bow, not to the cross or the altar, but to the Risen Christ in the tabernacle.
In my last two Reflections I’ve talked about Ebola and the Islamic State terrorist cult. Now several weeks later, given the media coverage, we can’t help but see the threat of each continuing to rise along with our fears.
Therefore, it is most important that we exercise our spiritual seeing, paying attention to the Presence of Christ healing, forgiving, calming, and inspiring, so that we stay focused on the work we have been called to do by Christ: “to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with our God.” Micah 6:8