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Evalgelical Lutheran Church in America Northeastern Ohio Synod
Letters from Pastor Alan Smearsoll


January 2020


A very blessed New Year to everyone! Welcome to the year of clear vision J! 20/20 vision means that a test subject can see the same line of letters at 20 feet as a person of normal vision can see at 20 feet.

Paul recognized that our vision as Christians is limited. “For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known.” (1 Corinthians 13:12)

Our Triune God is the only one with clear vision. The word of the Lord to Jeremiah “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:5) and again “For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

We see dimly. God sees clearly. However, just as a nearsighted person can see clearly through the use of a lens, God gives us a lens as well. That lens is the cross. The cross points out our sinfulness. It shows the world its need for salvation. What happened on the cross is ugly. But on the cross, Jesus gave us a glimpse of God - Forgiveness. Even in the midst of the world’s worst, we hear from the cross “Father, forgive them.”

This is God’s love bursting through the muck of sin. And on the other side of the cross – life. An empty tomb. Victory. Yes, the cross is our lens through which we are to view the world around us. It defines us. It gives us vision to see, although dimly. Through the cross we see the injustices in the world. Through the cross we see the plight of the poor more clearly. We see Jesus where we least expect. “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink?....Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” (Matthew 25:37-40).

2020 seems to me to be a good year to emphasize “vision.” Come to worship. Come back to worship, for hearing the Word proclaimed and gathering around the Lord’s table in communion is the prescription we need to begin to see the world around us more clearly. As you journey with Christ throughout the year, let him improve your vision.
 
For those who have lost their sight, have a hard time seeing, or are losing it (I myself have a vision issue in my right eye which apparently is permanent)  – this metaphor for the year 2020 and clear sight might seem insensitive. I understand that. It is not meant to be, for it is only a metaphor to proclaim something greater than our ability to physically see – that is, seeing the world through the eyes of the Triune God. This vision impacts who we are as God’s children, regardless of whether our vision is 20/20 or not at all. All of us need the lens of the cross to truly see, and this is the only vision that will ultimately matter to us. “I once was lost, but now am found; was blind, but now I see.” - Amazing Grace.

God bless,
Pastor Alan



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