“Human Sight/ Divine Vision” by The Rev. Stephanie Kendell
I hope this newsletter finds you well on this journey of Lent. I know this time of year can be challenging but together we can be a space of support, inspiration, and love. This Sunday we will gather at 11 am for service which will be followed by Soulfood Fellowship. I hope to see you there!
“I can’t believe it!”
This phrase has been a staple in my vocabulary since I was small. Sometimes it has taken a more sarcastic tone and sometimes it is an earnest statement of amazement. This week I have found myself running the gamut of ways to say it. However, the one that took my breath away was when I heard that lawmakers in Florida, in the presence of students that had survived the attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, voted against taking up a bill to ban assault weapons. Although the actions taken by the lawmakers were abhorrent, the “I can’t believe it” moment for me came as the students started to speak out against what had happened. Noah Kaufman, a 16-year-old, was quoted in TIME, “They’re voting to have shootings continually happen. These people who voted down the bill haven’t experienced what we did. I want to say to them, ‘It could be you.”
I can’t believe it because in the wake of this horrific tragedy these kids are building the kin-dom with divine vision. When all the adults in their world are acting and responding to only what is in from of them, reacting with human sight and reason, they are casting life-changing, spirit-healing, kin-dom building vision.
Like in this week’s scripture from Mark these kids are saying to the “Peters” in their lives, “Get behind me, Satan.” And they will not, should not, and cannot stop.
Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, ‘Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.’
He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of God with the holy angels.’ (Mark 8:31-38, NRSV)
I’m realizing that I say, “I can’t believe it,” when a divine vision interrupts my human sight. When something so unexpected cuts into my understanding of the world that I can’t help but be moved. My human sight is no match for divine vision. But it reminds me that I need to think bigger, dream bigger, and expect more. I need to not be my own Peter.
Church, as we journey together this Lent, we are going to come across people, systems, and emotions that we need to address. Let today be a new day. As people of faith, our first response is to react in kin-dom building ways like Jesus. Being hopeful even through the pain. But then we often become our own Peters naysaying our divine vision with human sight and human understanding. We need to get back to the divine vision of kin-doom building. Casting visions of love, justice, and peace that are so holy, that we step back in awe and hope and say “I can believe it.”