Narcissism plagues us. Not only the famous cases we hear about in the news. But our infatuation with our own opinions and views of the world. If only everyone would see life–or the controversy of the day–like I do, then the troubled waters would calm, we think. All would be peace. This is not only narcissistic; it’s delusional. Today’s prayer is admitting that deadly sin of seeing life only through our own eyes.
God of Glory,
When we seek your face,
Crave your very countenance,
Like Narcissus we mistakenly search a mirror,
Explore our own eyes,
Cast about for you in our own likeness.
By grace you appear there.
But in our own faces we glimpse
An impoverished strand of you,
A solitary shard filtering through,
One facet of a prism.
Yet no matter how impoverished,
We fall hopelessly in love
With our own skeletal thoughts
Our own myopic view.
We impose our way on others
As if them stemmed from you.
God of the universe,
When we seek your face,
Trouble the water;
Break the mirror;
Throw wide the window;
That we look away from our own distorted image
And instead see you
In other faces,
Ebony, walnut, peach.
Faces creased with care,
Scarred with injustice,
Polished with naiveté,
Masked with fear,
Flaccid with apathy.
Faces divergent in contrast,
Bring the colors lost in the corners
Of your artistic, diverse, and complex
Masterpiece of humanity
To the fore.
Arrest our gaze with the
Brushstrokes unnoticed, un-admired, even disdained.
Grant us holy wonder as we seek your face,
Your splendor in other faces,
As different from our own
As Monet from Van Gough.
“Most merciful God,
“we confess that we have sinned against you
in thought, word, and deed,
by what we have done,
and by what we have left undone.”*
We have sinned against you
By not seeing Your image in people.
We recognize You in a sunset
But strain to appreciate You in human smile
Or harder yet, a tear.
And because of that, we harm others,
Or fail to love them with Your love.
God of Grace:
Hear now our individual prayers of confession.
Assurance of Pardon:
Psalm 32:5: Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.” And you forgave the guilt of my sin.
Other reading that may help bring God’s image to the fore. In an Art Gallery of Pain: Loving the Shattered, Including Yourself, Facing Down the Malignant Cancer of Racism, Putting a Face on God: The Most Important Face You’ll Ever See