By Rev. Canon Renee
I bless your eyes that you may see Godís
image in everyone.
I bless your ears that you may hear the cry of the poor.
I bless your lips that you may speak nothing but the Gospel of Jesus.
I bless your hands that everything you receive and everything you give may be a sacrament.
I bless your feet that you may run to those who need you.
In the Pacific islands and in China there are potters who create out of mud. The figures are affectionately called ďmud people.Ē It is supposed to be the case that if you study the figure carefully, somewhere you will find on it, the thumbprint of the artist. I have two such figures, and it was a fascinating delight to search for the thumbprint of the artist, but as hard as I tried, I could not find the thumbprint. But I was told that the thumbprint is there, even if I couldnít see it with my naked eye.
We are like the ďmud people.Ē Every human beingĖevery human beingĖis made in the image of God. Every single human being has the thumbprint of God upon them. Sometimes that thumbprint is so visible as to be clear to everyone. At other times that thumbprint is hard to find. It may even be invisible to the eye. But you can be sure that it is there. Our task is to search until we find it, and often that is not an easy task.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. In the beginning God created woman and man out of the dust of the earth. In the beginning God fashioned man and woman after Godís own image.
What does it mean to be made in the image of God? It means that humans have the potential to live like God. Not to be God, but to be like God. To act according to the attributes of God. To exercise boundless love and generosity. To show constant compassion and tenderness, to incarnate meritless mercy and lovingkindness, to freely forgive and readily redeem. To honor the good and transform the evil. To be made in the image of God means that a human being can exercise in their lives those qualities of God that are life-giving, life-changing, life-sustaining.
And because every single human being is made in the image of GodĖhas been marked by the thumbprint of GodĖevery single human being has that potential. Unfortunately, we and others donít always live into that potential. Too often we find ourselves acting completely contrary to those godly qualities. Love, compassion, forgiveness, generosity, mercy, tenderness, lovingkindness can sometimes seem very far away. And we donít have to think very hard about this to see how readily it is true. Just consider your response when someone cuts in front of you on the freeway, or takes the right of way at a four-way stop. If such small irritations can pull us away from practicing the qualities weíve been created to practice, we can see why it is so difficult to remember that being made in the image of God, means we have the potential to choose a different response. When we act in opposition to these godly qualities it can seem as though the thumbprint of God is hidden. In the most tragic of times, it can even feel like the thumbprint of God has been lost.
I believe that the primary reason we donít search for the thumbprint of God on others is because we are still in doubt that we, ourselves, are made in Godís image. We can hardly think that it could be true. ďWho, me? Made in Godís image? Have you seen me when Iím really angry? Have you heard my words when people donít agree with me? Do you know what I did when I was young? Have you any idea how much anger I carry in my heart? Do you know how I treated my mother, or father or sister or brother or friend or ex-husband or ex-wife, or my children? Oh, if you knew meĖif you really knew meĖas I know myself, you would know that when God was creating people, he rather goofed with me. I didnít come out like the rest.Ē Yes, the hardest person on which to search for the thumbprint of God is on our own wounded and broken selves.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. In the beginning God created woman and man out of the dust of the earth. In the beginning God fashioned man and woman in Godís own image.
The thumbprint of God is on you, and no matter what you have done, and no matter what you will yet do, that thumbprint is on you for eternity. You are Godís own chosen person. You are Godís own beloved. You are Godís own creation.
I think I may have told some of you this story. A priest friend of mine baptized a young girl about 2 years old. The baptism was the joyous event everyone expected it would be. The little girl was excited about what was happening to her, and she concentrated very carefully on everything that was going on. After the water had been poured onto her head, the priest took the oil and made the sign of the cross on her forehead, and said the words, ďyou are marked as Christís own forever.Ē When the church service was over, the congregation made their way to the parish hall for coffee hour. The little girl came running into the parish hall at breakneck speed exclaiming to anyone who would listen, ďsee my cross, see my cross?Ē She had been marked as Christís own forever, and she believed that everyone could see that cross on her forehead. Can you imagine what it would be like, if we all lived with such excitement and assurance that Godís thumbprint was that visible on us?
But even when we are sure of Godís thumbprint
on us, we still have others to deal with. Sometimes itís not easy to see
the thumbprint of God on others because we have experienced pain at their
hands. They have forgotten us, ignored us, abused us, betrayed us,
taken advantage of our weakness and exercised power over us that was unfair
and unjust. We fear that if we recognize, acknowledge and affirm
that they are made in the image of God, they will not be punished or given
their just due for the pain they have inflicted. We may assent intellectually
to the truth of the statement that everyone is created in the image of
God, but when it comes to the person who betrayed me, or my spouse who
doesnít listen to me, or my boss who doesnít understand me, or the postal
clerk who doesnít pay attention to me, we may not feel so keen to search
for and encounter that image of God. In the depth of our souls we know
that when we do search and encounter that image of God in the nasty postal
clerk, we are going to need to treat her as we would treat God. It means
we are going to have to get behind the layers of nastiness and smile at
her, love her, act toward her as we would act toward God. That is
the difficulty. But, there is a way through the difficulty.
Vinoba Bhave, a contemporary of Mahatma Gandhi, was working for land reform and land redistribution in India. Vinoba, too, found it difficult to find the thumbprint of God on rich landowners who were unwilling to share their land with the poor, and yet he was amazingly successful in getting the landowners to give more land than they would ever have thought possible. And the reason for his success was this. He said, ďTake the example of a house. You want to enter this house, but it has high walls around it. You go to the wall and fight to get past it. You cannot. What happens? Your head is broken. But if you find a small door, you can get into the house and go wherever you want. But you have to find the door. Like that, when I meet a landlord, he has many faults and shortcomings, and his egotism is like a wall. But he has a little door. If you are prepared to find this door, it means you have risen above your own egotism and you can enter his heart. Donít worry about his faults, only try to find the door. I am in search of that little door in every capitalist landlord. If sometimes I canít find the door, it is my fault, my fault that I am banging my head against his shortcomings.Ē
The thumbprint of God is like the little door. And can you imagine what amazing things might begin to happen once you got past the shortcomings and found that thumbprintĖthat little door? People would be raised up. People could aspire to goodness. People could be free to be generous and loving, compassionate and tender, full of kindness and mercy. People could practice forgiveness and redemption. People could honor the good and transform the evil. People could exemplify in their lives those qualities that are life-giving, life-changing, life-sustaining. If, for one moment, a human being can know that they are made in the image of God, then hope can be restored and life made new.
I bless your eyes that you may see Godís
image in everyone. I bless your eyes that you may know that you, yourself,
have been created and fashioned in Godís image and carry on your very body
the thumbprint of God. I bless your eyes that you may begin a pilgrimage
that will transform your own life as you see others transfigured before
you. I bless your eyes that when you find that thumbprint of God
on another, you will love them as though you are loving God, for indeed
you are. Amen.
This site was designed courtesy of Crystal Cloud Graphics using digital camera images of the historic St. Andrew's Church in Ben Lomond, California and modified using . This site is navigable for the seeing impaired. Contact web mistress Kythera Ann with comments or questions.
l GENERAL INFORMATION l E-MAIL l ACOLYTES l ACTIVITIES l ALTAR GUILD l ARTICLES l CALENDAR l CHOIR l CHURCH HISTORY l EDUCATION l WEDDINGS l LAY MINISTERS l LINKS l OFFICE l PLEDGES l READING GROUP l VESTRY l