Jesus Sees You

Sunday’s Scripture ~ Luke 13:10-17.

Earlier this week I taught a yoga class that included a student with a broken big toe. He was anxious – to participate, to not harm his toe further, to not be a distraction to the other students, and to feel like he accomplished what he wanted to accomplish by the end of class.

The good news about yoga is that every pose – every.single.pose. – can be modified to each individual student. Poses can increase in challenge or comfort. Poses can be completed standing, kneeling, or sitting. So no poses on your feet – no problem.

He did not leave. He did not sit out. He practiced.

He did not feel cast to the side. He felt seen. He felt heard. He felt comforted. He felt accomplished. He felt included.

Before leaving class he thanked me for taking such special care of him in class and then asked me to suggest what other classes he might take that would accommodate and guide him through his recovery. I shared with him that it would be the pleasure of any teacher in the studio to lead him through a class at his ability level. It is on the teacher to meet the students where they are, to listen, to guide, and, most of all, to see.

When I feel seen, my self worth soars. When I feel seen, I am affirmed that I matter and that my contributions matter. And that feeling motivates me to see and affirm others.

As we head into the Fall months at Tuskawilla UMC we will have increased opportunities to see and connect with folks in our church family as well as see and connect with folks in our community. I love to watch our church during the Greeting Time on Sundays…I am convinced that our church family would greet one another for at least 20 minutes if we did not draw the congregation’s attention forward in the service. No one stands alone. No one is without a hand to shake or a smile to receive. It is truly extraordinary to behold and warms my heart so. We take time to see one another every Sunday. We take time to see one another as Jesus sees us.

In that same spirit I look forward to seeing our Bible Study groups resume, to seeing Scout Troops return to our campus, to seeing our Morningsong Worship Service begin on Sunday, September 11 at 8:30am, and yes, even to seeing the arrival of our little orange friends because their presence means we will soon see many of our community members on the church campus. I celebrate how our church sees both the Class Athlete Afterschool Program and the students of the Arbor School of Central Florida and has welcomed them to meet on our campus. I am amazed by the number of families our Friday Afternoon Food Bank sees and serves twice a month; their commitment to nourish the body and the soul is deeply inspiring.

The Tuskawilla Family understands well what it means to see one another and to meet our neighbors where they are. Through our ministries and witness we comfort and we challenge; we see, hear, and include God’s people. Through this behavior we add our hands to building God’s Kingdom.

Jesus sees us. When we serve one another well, we serve him well and he is so pleased.

Prayer: “Breathe on me, Breath of God, fill me with life anew, that I may love what thou dost love, and do what thou wouldst do. Breathe on me, Breath of God, until my heart is pure, until with thee I will one will, to do and to endure.”* Amen.

*”Breathe on Me, Breath of God,” The United Methodist Hymnal 420.

Presenting: Survivor Babylon

Sunday’s Scripture ~ Daniel 3:1-30

This week the Tuskawilla Community will be led in worship by our Children’s Theatre Group, which is part of the ever-growing TUMC Fine Arts Ministry. These pre-school, elementary, and middle school age students have met every Wednesday over the summer to study the scripts, scores, and Scriptures on which their musical – Survivor Babylon – is based. Many thanks to Tim, Hope, Diane, Samantha and all of the parents of our students that have worked together as a team to make this musical offering possible.

This Sunday we will see and hear a telling of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego’s time in the fiery furnace. These three faithful Jews would not bow down in prayer and worship to King Nebuchadnezzar’s golden image and were sentenced to die in a blazing furnace heated seven times hotter than its regular temperature. Three men were thrown into the fiery furnace, but four persons were seen in walking around in the fire. The fire did not harm Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego because of God’s security and provision. This was a miracle! And Nebuchadnezzer praised God for protecting these three men saying, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his messenger and delivered his servants who trusted in him. They disobeyed the king’s command and yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God” (Dan 3:28).

In 2011 I completed a 20-week chaplaincy internship in a Central Florida hospital. At one of the campuses I walked past a three-story tall painting depicting an operating room complete with medical personnel, equipment, and a patient. What stood out about this painting was that nestled between the doctor and nurse leaning over the patient was Jesus. Jesus was present in the operating room, not hugging a wall, but in the middle of the unfolding drama and life-saving work.

I always thought this painting was curious. It was one thing to think about Jesus’ presence in an operating room and it was another thing to see his presence physically depicted. It was astonishing. It stopped me in my tracks. I think my feelings were akin to those experienced by Nebuchadnezzer when he observed God’s presence protecting Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the furnace.

The reality is that God is with us everywhere. Jesus is with us everywhere. We may not physically see our God with us, but this does not mean that God is not there. How would our outlooks change if we fixed our eyes on God in our midst rather than questioning where God is when we feel disconnected or alone? How would our actions change if we recognized God in our midst when our behaviors are not becoming of the gospel we claim as truth?

As I walked the corridors of the hospital I would see this and other paintings of Jesus “staring” at me at all times and in all attitudes – when I was happy to be there, when I would be happy to be anywhere but there, when I was tired, angry, broken, struggling, and weary. Looking at Jesus looking at me usually altered my outlook and attitude. Seeing Jesus filled me with hope. Seeing Jesus renewed my courage. Seeing Jesus reminded me that our God is Lord of all and is present in every circumstance.

God is always present. God is always protecting. God is always providing. God is so good. Let us join in praise with Nebuchadnezzer, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent – and sends – his messengers and delivered his servants who trusted in him.”

Prayer: “Be not dismayed whater’er betide, God will take care of you; beneath his wings of love abide, God will take care of you. Through days of toil when heart doth fail, God will take care of you; when dangers fierce your path assail, God will take care of you. All you may need he will provide, God will take care of you; nothing you ask will be denied, God will take care of you. No matter what may be the test, God will take care of you; lean, weary one, upon his breast, God will take care of you. God will take care of you, through every day, o’er all the way, he will take care of you, God will take care of you.”* Amen.

*”God Will Take Care of You,” The United Methodist Hymnal 130.