Mirror, mirror

“Mirror. Mirror on the wall, who is most beautiful of all?” asks the wicked stepmother of Sleeping Beauty.  We know the story.  The mirror reveals a momentary truth and in response, the stepmother acts.  Our mirrors reflect truth to us also but we bring the interpretation and act.  Walter Wangerin, Jr, intrigued me with his theory that being made in the image of God implies that our most honest mirror is seeing ourselves in the lives of others.  I may look in the mirror on the wall and feel I have my act together but it is when I interact with another and see the pain caused by my thoughtless comment that I truly see myself and know truth about myself.  We love stories with happy endings that portray the “good side” of humanity and we resist dark narratives of evil and gloom that force us to acknowledge the selfishness that lies within.

         Wangarin proposes that by avoiding the “hurt other,” I also avoid the possibility of grace, of forgiveness.  When I hurt the other and must humble myself and ask forgiveness, is when I open myself to grace and love.  Many resist the journey of Lent, as it is a painful journey into our potential for selfishness and cruelty.  The journey will end at the cross for Easter is still cloaked in mystery.  Death, we know, is something to be avoided and the Lenten journey embraces death.  It is as I face the selfishness of my actions, humble myself and ask forgiveness, that I can then hear words of forgiveness.  But I am getting ahead of myself.  The words of Isaiah in the Old Testament foreshadowed the cross and healing. 

         As we look in the mirror today to see if the ashes of yesterday still show, if our face is clean, remember these words of Isaiah and allow them to work in your heart today.

Isaiah 53:4-6  The Message

2-6 The servant grew up before God—a scrawny seedling,
    a scrubby plant in a parched field.
There was nothing attractive about him,
    nothing to cause us to take a second look.
He was looked down on and passed over,
    a man who suffered, who knew pain firsthand.
One look at him and people turned away.
    We looked down on him, thought he was scum.
But the fact is, it was our pains he carried—
    our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us.
We thought he brought it on himself,
    that God was punishing him for his own failures.
But it was our sins that did that to him,
    that ripped and tore and crushed him—our sins!
He took the punishment, and that made us whole.
    Through his bruises we get healed.
We’re all like sheep who’ve wandered off and gotten lost.
    We’ve all done our own thing, gone our own way.
And God has piled all our sins, everything we’ve done wrong,
    on him, on him.

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