By Tom Holmes
The other day I couldn't find my glasses, because I couldn't find my glasses. You see, I need my glasses to see, and I had misplaced them somewhere in my home, so I had trouble finding them, because without them I couldn't see well.
Did you follow that?!
I share that story, because when I talk about my faith experiences with God, my stories don't seem plausible to some of my non-religious and agnostic friends. They don't resonate. The stories don't "make sense."
And all I can think of to explain my inability to communicate a way of leaning into life which is so important to me is that they look at life through different glasses than I do. That is, their cultural/experiential/psychological lenses were ground by experiences like a demand that everything make logical sense or disillusioning experiences with the institutional church or a fear of taking the leap of faith or discomfort with anything that can't be empirically verified.
You need to look at "reality" through a certain kind of lens in order to see God at work in the world. Normal 20/20 vision is unable to see the rings of Saturn without a telescope or microscopic critters without a microscope. Normal vision also can't seem to see God's presence either. It's like those two disciples on the road to Emmaus on Easter evening when Jesus joined them, and they just couldn't recognize them. That is, not until he broke the bread and blessed it at dinner time, and that action "opened their eyes."
You need glasses to see the "unseen," and if you don't have those glasses you won't be able, it seems, to find the glasses you need. It's a conundrum with which I don't know how to work. It's like evangelicals who quote the Bible to prove one spiritual point or another, but if the listener doesn't accept the authority of scripture, then the testimony won't make an impact.
I was raised on Luther's Small Catechism. In the meaning he provides for the Third Article of the Apostles' Creed, the part that talks about the Holy Spirit, Luther writes, "I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ or come to him."
In other words, if you are looking at life through a microscope, you'll never see the stars, and if you're looking at life through a microscope, you won't find the glasses you need to even find the telescope.
That, it seems to me, is why some see the second chapter of Luke as a cute story about a baby in a manger while others see it as a life transforming event.