Tuesday, October 30, 2007

I have called you by name.

It is amazing how a human face changes things. Take an issue, any issue, and speak of it in generalities and, especially if it is a controversial issue, people will quickly become adamant about the correctness of their position, whatever side of the issue they happen to be on. But speak of a mutual friend dealing with the same issue and the conversation changes. In the abstract, stem cell research may be wonderful or murder in your opinion. But when a neighbor with a rare cancer pins her hopes on such research, all you can do is feel the pain and longing.

In a similar way, when we hear a news report of a tragedy and we feel regret or some sadness for the pain and loss. But put a human face with it, and it changes for us. We are connected, and one persons' loss is a loss to us all.

The fire tragedy at Ocean Isle Beach, NC this past weekend that claimed the lives of seven college students hit me with these thoughts. We have watched the news of the horrible fires raging in southern California for weeks, which included loss of life. Those fires were horrible, and we prayed for the victims and the fire fighters. But that was far away and we did not know them.

This loss, closer to home, with names we unfortunately can connect with, becomes an ache we carry for those in shock and grief. Names and faces of people we know, or who know the people we know. And so we pray anew.

My point is, I do not believe God sees in generalities. God sees and knows each face. Maybe another way to say it is, God does not see us a people, but as persons. That probably says more about our faith than I can comprehend, but for today, it is both a comfort, and a calling.

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