Do you know what one of the worst “diseases” it is possible for a human being to contract?
You would be surprised how many people suffer from this condition. you may even be one of them. Some examples for you:
Yesterday, while at work (Monday night youth club) I was talking to a couple of young men who are in 6th form. You couldn’t meet two nicer young men, although they would probably wince and me saying so. you can get a really decent conversation out of them, they are polite, helpful and intelligent.
We were discussing the ipad that one of them has had to keep sending back due to a fault. He is very impressed with apple’s over the phone and online service. Less impressed with the local Apple store. He went in this week to get some help, they really didn’t want to help and the store manager was not best pleased to speak to him. Last night we were discussing how this was because of his age. Had his dad gone in it would have been a different matter.
His age made him invisible, his knowledge, decency and basic right to be respected unseen.
I have had similar trouble. If you are a woman and have ever been patronised by an employee in a car garage you will know what I mean. My husband and father are much more visible.
And this is 2010.
Invisibility is a “disease” which effects the young, the old, the poor, women, black people, gay people, disabled people… Now there is a classic example, the disabled. What do you think it is that disables a wheel chair user? The impairment of their legs or all the shops that have steps up to their entrances?
If everyone were a wheel chair user, how long do you think those steps would remaim invisible?
My greatest heroes are those who choose to make the invisible people, visible. Three examples for you:
1. Susie Hart
this woman moved with her husband to Tanzania, and made visible a whole host of disabled people. If you are disabled in Tanzania, chances are you are invisible to everybody, even your own family. Susie has made these people visible, giving them back their lives and in some cases their families too. you can read her story here:
2. Shara Brice
is married to a vicar in one of the most difficult neighbourhoods in Britain. she made local young people visible in a way many would have thought totally impossible. she has given those young people purpose, love and the respect of many. As a youth worker I find her story show stopping. you can read it here: http://www.womenoftheyear.co.uk/z-yes-you-can.htm
Sounds like an obvious choice doesn’t it? The Son of God, the one who made the universe along with the Father and the Spirit.
but he was also, for a while, poor and Jewish under Roman occupation. That can cause some serious invisibility. and yet, of all the people in history, Jesus is the one who washes away the invisibility of humanity.
He saw the poor, the young, the ethnic minority and women, in a time when women were about as visible as a mans camel. Two examples for you:
The young (Mark 10:13-14)
“One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so he could touch and bless them. But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering him.
When Jesus saw what was happening, he was angry with his disciples. He said to them, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. “
Jesus cut through all that people could see, tradition, notions of importance, where time was worth spending, all of it… he turns around the whole thing, not only making the children visible, but of the most value.
Women (John 4:6-7 and for the whole story, see the rest of the chapter)
Jacob’s well was there; and Jesus, tired from the long walk, sat wearily beside the well about noontime. Soon a Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Please give me a drink.”
Seems like an uneventful happening, asking someone for a drink. but in those times not only did men not speak to women in public, not only did Jews not speak to Samaritans, but this woman was out at noon because her reputation meant she was not welcome at the usual time.
and yet Jesus was prepared to make her visible.
We are all visible to God, even if we are invisible to so many others. These people are my heroes, and it is my deepest desire in life to follow their example and help make people visible. I hope it might be yours too.