Saturday, June 30, 2012

God, George Washington, and Me

     When I was six years old my parents entered me in religious instruction classes.  The classes took place on Saturday morning, prime cartoon viewing time even then.  I remember the teacher standing at the front of the room telling us that we were going to learn about Jesus, who sits at God's  right hand and God the Father.
     There were two portraits conveniently placed above the blackboard behind her.  The portrait on the right was of Jesus blessing the children.  
     While this is not the same picture from my childhood, it conveys the same warm feeling.  There were more children gathered around and touching Jesus.   Jesus was wearing a favorite bathrobe and slippers.   Jesus obviously liked children and they, Him.  He did not look like He minded their sticky fingers.  Jesus looked kind and caring.  In the picture I remember, Jesus even had a little pet lamb.  Jesus looked like the kind of adult a child would want to know.
     On the left side was what I thought was a picture of God.  It was a copy of a well known portrait of George Washington.
     The picture of God was not friendly at all.  God looked very stern and unapproachable.  He had long white hair and a fierce hooked nose.  His clothes were long and dark.  God wore funny looking shoes, and from the expression on his face, they appeared to be pinching his toes.  He looked like the kind of man who might be a principal - someone who held people to rules and handed out punishments.  I was pretty sure that I would get in trouble with him.
     It was years before this case of mistaken identity was cleared up.  In fact, when I saw filmstrips with George Washington on them, I thought he had become President because of his resemblance to God.  George Washington may have been the Father of Our Country, but he was not God the Father.  
     My husband, Pat, will tell you that I do sometimes get in trouble with George Washington.  His picture is on the dollar bill.
     My son, Anthony, was so much smarter than me.  When he was six he told me, "Mommy.  I have God's face."  
     I must have looked a little skeptical.
     "Yes.  My Sunday School Teacher told me so."
So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him,
male and female he created them.  ~Genesis 1:26-27
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.  For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,  I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’  “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?   When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?  When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’   “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’  Matthew 25:34-40 
     Look gently into the faces of those around you.  We are not God, but we are His hands, His feet, and His Face to the people we meet everyday.
     When you pictured God as a child, what did He look like?

Linking to:  Think on These Things.
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