In The Frame
This pandemic has not been good for my vanity. I have spent so long looking at myself on Zoom calls these last 12 months, I’d be giving Narcissus a run for his money.
When we moved to the Vicarage, just as we were entering another lockdown, one of the first things I had to do was make a respectable-looking backdrop for my Zoom calls and video messages. Tilt the laptop a few degrees in either direction and you’d have seen a war zone, but in the frame, it looked fine.
I wonder if you can identify. Do you keep an immaculate corner of your home for online chats? Have you attended virtual meetings looking decent above the waist, but in your joggers and slippers under the desk? It’s OK – me too!
The desire to present well to the world is nothing new, of course. I recently did a funeral for a man who I was told never left home unless he was wearing a smart shirt and tie. I respect that but things have got to a point where I fear we are, more often than not, covering up the real us.
Social media, particularly Facebook and Instagram, trade in picture-perfect lives. Even our ‘oops’ moments where we reveal our vulnerable sides are carefully curated. We don’t show the really bad stuff – and it’s exhausting.
Jesus always looked past the facade and dealt with people as they really were. He always did it in such a way that gave them dignity and made them feel loved.
When he saw a woman racked by shame drawing water when everyone else was at home in the shade, he seized the moment. He amazed her by drawing near to her exactly as she was, taking her questions seriously and offering words of grace and healing.
He does the same today to each of us. It has to be that way because Jesus can’t transform the pretend version of us, only the real one.
We are loved for exactly who we are and the effect of that love is that we are changed. May that be the frame through which we start to look at the world.
Revd Al Metcalfe
Revd Al Metcalfe is Vicar of St Augustine’s Ipswich;
‘the church with the lighted cross.’
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