Invisible in Plain Sight
Kevin Bacon's face is everywhere. The prolific charcter actor has appeared in numerous movies, television shows and commercials - so many in fact that he is the subject of the popular game known as "Six degrees of Kevin Bacon"
It's based on the theory that anyone on earth can be connected to any other person on the planet through a chain of acquaintances that has no more than five intermediaries. Theoretically you know someone who knows someone else who knowes this other person who knows someone else, by which time you should have established a connectrion with just about anyone any where in the world.
In the case of the Kevin Bacon game, one player names an actor and the other one attempts to make a connection in six moves, through actors who have acted with that one actor, with Kevin Bacon.
Though Kevin Bacon is almost instantly recognizable, there was this time he worked with a makeup artist who created a prosthetic that made very subtle changes to Bacon's face. Suddenly he was able to walk around Los Angles without being recognized.
He didn't like it.
"It was almost disturbing", he said. "People kind of looked right through me and weren't nice to me." The actor said that because of his fame, he was used to being treated well, and suddenly he was no longer getting those strokes."
Most of us aren't as famous as Kevin Bacon, but we may have a similar experience. Perhaps we clerk in a store, are a nurse in a doctor's office, wear the uniform of a police officer or serve people in a restaurant. We know lots of people, and lots of people know us. We establish friendly relationships with the people we serve. We are glad to see them, and they are glad to see us.
But take off the uniform, or leave your place of work, or show up with a child in hand, and suddenly you are unrecognizable. The relationship we thought we had doesn't seem to matter any more. Instead of a smile or a wave, we may be treated as a stranger, perhaps even treated rudely. What happened to the connection we use to have?
One of the most known of the Easter stories is "The two disciples on the road to Emmaus." Remember the risen Christ joins them on the trip, suddenly. They don't recognize him. Not even one degree separation works here.
As it turns out, this story does not have a happy ending because the two disciples are led to recognize Jesus in his breaking of bread. The disciples realized the clues were there in their time with Jesus with the question, "Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the raod, while he was opening the scripture to us?
Jesus may have been an invited guest, but at the meal he takes on the role of host, giving thanks and breaking the bread. In dong so, suddenly, as if he had put back on his nurse's scrubs or police uniform, the disciples had finally recognized Jesus!
This is perhaps the most profound thing the Bible tells us. We are led to recognize Jesus in His role as host and we as recipients of His gifts. The one gift we celebrate the most in our Baptism is the power of Christ. His power over sin, death amd the devil is now applied to us. In the Lord's Supper, Jesus is out host and we are the recipients. Recipients of salvation and forgiveness and full peace with God.
There's a wonderful irony to this story. The disciples think they know everything about Jesus, but Jesus know everything about them. This reminds us that we're not the experts we think we are. Listen to His word.
After they recognize Jesus, and He is taken from their midst. the disciples discover that their plans suddenly didn't seem so important. Immediately, they head straight back to Jerusalem, from which they had just come. This is a sign that the Resurrection is alive amoug us - when we are prompted: Turn around! Change plans!
Remeber to story of Kevin Bacon? That stranger in our midst could be a celebrity. More important, that stranger sent into our midst by God may be Jesus with us! Why don't we recognize Jesus all around us, in the ordinary people we serve and who serve us? Perhaps our eyes can be opened, as were those two disciples - we can see Jesus more clearly in the breaking of the bread.