Friday, 10 June 2016

Do you see this woman?

Luke 7: 36-50

At the heart of our Gospel story, Jesus has a question for Simon the Pharisee,
“Do you see this woman?”.

How could Simon not see the woman!
Standing behind Jesus, weeping over his feet, and kissing them, wasting expensive perfume.  What Simon sees is a sinner, who should not even have been let into his law-abiding house, and who certainly shouldn’t be touching Jesus. Simon sees someone he thinks is utterly unlike himself, who he wants nothing to do with, who he would like to see leave his home & stop being a bother.

Yet Jesus asks “Do you see this woman?” and the shock is going to come for Simon as he sees this woman as Jesus sees her:
“You gave me no water for my feet – she bathed my feet with her tears
You gave me no kiss – she has not stopped kissing my feet
You did not anoint my head – she has anointed my feet.”

Jesus sees a forgiven sinner and, as he illustrates with his story of two people in debt, the one who has been forgiven much, loves much.
Perhaps Simon thought this woman could never be forgiven, but Jesus declares she is forgiven and tells her ‘go in peace’.

Do you see this woman?
Can you see her as Jesus sees her?
Not scarred by sin, but released by love, and deserving of just as much of Jesus attention as a respected, law-abiding Pharisee.
What would it take for us to see as Jesus sees?

I recently read a story of a little girl – just 9 years old – in Los Angeles who has a gift for ‘seeing’ the women around her, whom others don’t notice.
With the help of her grandma, Khloe makes bags for homeless women out of strong, brightly coloured material.
Then she packs the bags with shampoo, toothpaste & toothbrush, soap & so on, and goes out to give them to women who live on the street. She began doing this because she noticed people living rough and realised how difficult it must be to keep clean. She has noticed them, ‘seen’ them, and responded to their need by giving them a bag, a way to keep clean, their dignity.

Simon the Pharisee thinks he see this woman -  a woman of the city, a well-known sinner, who gate-crashes the meal in his house and begins making a spectacle of herself.
But Jesus shows Simon what he is failing to see – her love for Jesus, her gratitude for forgiveness, her grace.

Are there people whom we are failing to see? Or at least failing to see as Jesus sees them.

What about the person who has done you wrong? Do you see them as a person anymore, or as an annoyance, or worse? What about the person you dread coming to sit next to you on the bus? You know the one.. and how your heart sinks when you catch sight of them. Maybe even there is a member of your family whom you’re struggling to understand, tolerate, love – can you see them as Jesus sees them?

But in case you think this sermon is in danger of turning into a finger-wagging ‘go and be a nicer person’ sermon, I think there is someone else who Jesus would really like you to see as he sees… yourself.
Imagine looking in a mirror and hear Jesus say “Do you see this woman?” or “Do you see this man?”.

We all know our failings, our difficulties, our scars.
So does Jesus. But just as surely as he sees this woman others label as a sinner as a forgiven and precious child of God, that’s how he sees you and me.

This last week I had a conversation with a lovely woman, who has spent her life struggling to come to terms with the very negative message she always received from her parents.
Whenever she didn’t do what they wanted, or made a mistake in her young life, she was told she bad and wicked.
To that young woman, and to everyone of us here Jesus says: “I see you. I know you. I love you”.

“Do you see this woman?”.
Can you see yourself?
Can you see as Jesus sees?
If you can know yourself a precious, forgiven child of God, if you can accept the gift of grace from Jesus, then you may want to respond as the woman in our gospel story does – extravagantly, fully, joyfully, thankfully, even shockingly. You can sing the hymn and mean it
“I come with joy to meet my Lord, forgiven, loved and free”.

If you look in the mirror and cannot yet see see that precious child of God, ask Jesus to show you, pray for the grace to accept God’s love for you. It isn’t a love born out of law-keeping and earned by good works, it is God’s free gift – and it changes lives.
I want to finish with a favourite poem of mine, written by Kaylin Haught, of Oklahoma:

God Says Yes To Me
I asked God if it was okay to be melodramatic
and she said yes
I asked her if it was okay to be short
and she said it sure is
I asked her if I could wear nail polish
or not wear nail polish
and she said honey
she calls me that sometimes
she said you can do just exactly
what you want to
Thanks God I said
And is it even okay if I don't paragraph
my letters
Sweetcakes God said
who knows where she picked that up
what I'm telling you is

Yes Yes Yes                                  

Amen, amen, amen.

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