Face to face

Christ Church Magazine – February 2022

Meeting up with people face to face is so very precious. We can see the joy on people’s faces when communication is no longer remote, or electronic, but is real and personal. The declaration of love by one valentine heart to another is motivated by the desire to be with the person.

We’ve come to appreciate face to face contact more profoundly due to the regulations that divided families and friends during the pandemic. It’s true that we’ve worked harder at making communication through writing letters, emails and texts, or looked forward to regular ‘catchups’ using the humble telephone or through video links. Perhaps there is something to learn from this. But when it comes down to it, we know that staring at a glass screen, however good the resolution and colour balance, is just not the same as being with someone in person. We want to see them face to face. Unfortunately, the United Nations designation of the year 2022 being ‘the year of glass’ has a certain irony to it.

The profound enjoyment of seeing someone you love face to face is expressed in a well-known passage often read at weddings. One line is not so well known, and even less understood we might joke! But is worth pondering for a moment. Here is the line that came to my mind: “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known” (1 Corinthians 13v12). The ancient mirrors were made of polished metal such as bronze, which required constant polishing to ensure that a reflection could be seen. One’s reflection was much dimmer than in modern mirrors. The Apostle Paul who wrote this line is addressing a church which thought it knew it all, since they were super-spiritual. Yet Paul, the great theologian, and we, the lesser theologians, will as we consider all that God has revealed have to admit that our understanding of the truth is partial.

An imperfect knowledge leaves us scratching our heads at times, since the complete picture eludes us and we are told that, “the secret things belong to the Lord” (Deuteronomy 29v29). This will all change on the day of Christ’s return (his second coming or advent) when his people shall see him face to face. All will then be clear for those who belong to Christ and his eternal kingdom. What a great day that will be: the communication will be in person, face to face. 

Paul Kingman