The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. – the gospel of John
One of my favourite novels is by Christopher Moore called Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal. It sounds a little irreverent and it is but it’s also brilliant. Moore imagines Jesus’ childhood, youth and his emergence into adulthood – all those years for which the gospels do not account. The story is told through the eyes of his childhood friend, Biff. Imagine growing up in the same village as Jesus and being his chum. You would have seen a child playing with other children. Seen him go to the temple with his family. Listened to him describe what it was like working in the carpenter’s shop with his dad. Just ordinary human stuff.
What’s beautiful about this novel is that it highlights the humanity of Jesus but also shows how he came to understand his own divinity. Fully human, fully divine. It’s hard to wrap your head around that concept. No wonder he wasn’t immediately recognized for who he was. No wonder, when he began his preaching ministry and started to make great claims about himself that the people wondered “isn’t this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he say he came down from heaven?”
In her song, Unlikely Icon, Helma Sawatzky explores exactly this, repeating the phrase “the unlikely icon of the face of God”. She describes the children playing “hide and seek with the Saviour of Nations”. She describes Joseph’s carpenter’s shop as the “royal surroundings where God grew up.” She also describes Jesus’ “cruel execution where blood stained the dirt, bystanders taunting him for a lifesaving work.”
And then. Then she brings it right home.
How can we be sure to see
The light of the world in the eyes of an enemy
Is your face so common place
We fail to see your grace in reality…
We fail to see you?
We stumble through darkness and try to make sense
Of what you might look like in this present tense
When here in the mirror
We stand face to face with the holy reflection of the God of Grace
The unlikely icon of the face of God
When God chose to come to us, he really did choose to get down and dirty. Who would have imagined the King of Creation choosing such a path to restore his creation to himself? It truly is the most unlikely method. And if each of us is a spark of the Divine, then we too are unlikely vessels and what a gift we’ve been given.
But the real test is to see that in each other. To see that in our enemies. To see that in the strangers we encounter each day. When I think of the youth who are served by Cyrus Centre in this light, I’m humbled. Those who do this work 24/7/365 look at the face of Jesus every time they look into the face of one of those kids. Holy smack.
Cyrus Centre does amazing work in the Fraser Valley and they deserve your support. Give what you can, knowing that because of the generosity of a wonderful donor couple, all donations no will be matched up to $3000. Give what you can, knowing that what you do for the least of these unlikely people, you’re doing it for Jesus. Get the details on how to give on our Services Info Page.