If you were an emoticon, what would be your most frequent facial expression? Would it be a smiley face? Maybe there are occasions for a sad face, or even one with your tongue sticking out, or a not so sure look. Perhaps you frequently laugh and add a heart for love. Our faces can express all sorts of emotions, but sometimes there is one that best represents who we are.
In my congregation a parishioner has a most captivating smile. When she smiles at us we burst into a smile too and feel good all over. She can be described as the one with the great big loving smile. And a pastor in town is so positive and exudes an aura of joy that after being with him I go away singing to myself the text of a hymn: “Go forth for God; go to the world in joy; to serve God’s people every day and hour.”
By contrast some people seem to maintain a somber look, and what they say is often negative noting what is wrong
with people and the world. They could be in pain, but such an expression may have become so familiar that they maintain a dour outlook on life. Seeing them brings your spirits down. And then there are those with hard, angry features, perpetually mean-spirited and critical. While the faces of some of these can’t be seen as callers on the WRUS Feedback morning show, it can be frightening for a guest speaker to talk about religion. At times the vitriol from the caller feels like an ax aimed at the neck of the guest to rid the world of such heresies, and is conveyed in the name of Jesus. Fortunately, Don Neagle, the host, is so gracious and well spoken that the guest is spared a verbal beheading. I imagine such callers with gritted teeth or a devil’s face. Hopefully, that is not their normal look.
It is the practice of many Christians to look for the face of Christ in each person they meet, even in its “distressing disguise” as Mother Teresa put it. Our look into the eyes of others should find the gift of God’s presence in their lives. What is the good within them that can be drawn forth so that love and forgiveness will be felt if only for a moment? Can a smile be exchanged for a frown? Can a face of love bring love to another? Can we replace our own negative attitudes with the joy of sharing the multiple gifts of God’s creation?
Can we look for the face of Christ in every face, even in its distressing disguise?
It might be helpful to ask ourselves, how does my natural emoticon describe who I really am?