“Look upon him and be radiant, *
and let not your faces be ashamed.”
Psalm 34, Sunday Lent Four, Evening Prayer, the Daily Office Book, Year One
Why be ashamed? There is no shame in the presence of God. To be in the presence of God is to be in the presence of God’s compassionate offering of forgiveness. To be in God’s presence is to look into the radiant face of Love. God is love and all the mercy that comes with it. We, you, are God’s holy creation. We are real, we have faults, yes. We cause suffering wounds to those around us, yes. We even wound one another in the name of God, sadly yes. Yet, we are real, we admit to them, asking forgiveness we act towards reconciliation, and to receive restoration, in God’s freely given love, which God longs to share with us, which we in turn are obliged to freely share to one another. We love not to garner God’s mercy, but we love because we know God’s mercy; we are compelled. Our compassion springs forth from God’s compassion.
We are just learning to love, and we of course will fall short, God is aware of this, as we all are. We only need admit it. The shame may be found in refusing God’s compassion, the shame of a missed opportunity for us to come clean, to have healthy relationships free of dysfunctional denial. Shame may be found in deriding ourselves for being in our human nature, as to we all were born, while worse, forgetting that we all are born of God’s nature as well.
Shame may be found in refusing an offer of forgiveness, or in refusing to offer forgiveness. But, never is shame to be found in God loving us. The love of Christ is for the whole world and a love which is never retracted, as his cross and resurrection affirms. Christ came not to judge the world but to heal it, meaning, me and you. Let us lift up our faces then and look into the radiance of Love and be healed, then let us speak of it, with outstretched arms, in sharing Christ’s healing embrace.
Loving Creator: your light illumines the dark clouds of shame which enfold us; Grant us courage and willingness to raise our eyes and faces into the glorious radiance of your ever abiding love and truth, to enlighten our hearts and minds, to again see Christ in ourselves and each other, so that in your Spirit, we may again love each other as you love us; in your Compassionate Name we pray, Amen.