You have been seized by the power of a great affection (atheists and theists alike). It’s not so much that the one loved is lovable; it’s more about the beauty of the love with which one has been loved. This kind of love commonly comes strangely enough from the mentally handicapped.
Brennan Manning was able to spend an afternoon with an Amish family in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Jonas Zook was his host, an eighty-two-year-old widower. The oldest child, fifty-seven year old Barbara, managed the household. The three younger children, Rachel (fifty-three), Elam (forty-seven), and Sam (forty-five) were all severely retarded.
Manning writes: “When I arrived at noon with two friends, little Elam – about four feet tall, heavy-set, thickly bearded, and wearing the black Amish outfit with the circular hat – was coming out of the barn some fifty yards away, pitchfork in hand. He had never laid his eyes on me in his life; yet, when he saw me step out of the car, this little Mongoloid dropped the pitchfork and ran lickety-split in my direction. Two feet away, he flung himself at me, wrapped his arms around my neck, his legs around my waist, and kissed me on the lips with fierce intensity for a full thirty seconds.”
Manning said, “I was temporarily stunned and terribly self-conscious. But in the twinkle of an eye, Jesus set me free and I returned this little mentally retarded mans kiss with the same enthusiasm. Then he jumped down, wrapped both is hands around my right arm, and led me on a tour of the farm.”
Manning later observed: “I was seized by the power of a great affection. In his utter simplicity little Elam Zook was an icon of Jesus Christ. Why? Because at that moment his love for me did not stem from any attractiveness or lovability of mine… Elam loved me whether I was kind or unkind, pleasant or nasty.”
This is what has happened in our world at Christmas. Humanity has been seized by the power of a great affection. Restraint has been thrown to the winds and love has grabbed us and will not let us go. The question is: Will you return the kiss?
Let’s join ranks with this special group of people who know how to love – icons of Jesus.