How is your halo? I don't mean the circle of light surrounding your head, as displayed by many artists in the Middle Ages to identify saints of The Lord. No, I mean the "halo" in terms of your immediate physical surroundings – roughly one yard in each direction around you like a circle of influence. That area surrounding each one of us is so-designated by certain sports rules, including the previous NCAA football rule called "the halo rule" which meant that a receiver catching a punt or kick-off could not be violated by defenders invading that area.
Each one of us has a "halo" of immediate surroundings which is our field of influence. We have the opportunity to be a Christ-like presence to every person who comes within our halo: the person who serves us food, the co-worker, the family member, the neighbor, or even the person who irritates or offends us. Every person we encounter is an opportunity – an opportunity to demonstrate to them the love, acceptance, and peace of Christ.
A few years ago I was having lunch with one of my District Superintendents. As the waitress delivered our food, this DS thanked her and then simply said, "We will be having prayer before we eat. If there anything you would like us to pray for you?" Quickly the waitress teared up and said, "Yes, please, my mother is in the hospital and I am worried about her." Both the DS and I assured her that we would pray for her mother (which we did), and when the waitress came back to our table later she thanked us profusely, saying, "Thank you so much. I feel more at peace now about Mom." The DS continued to offer her compassion by handing her his business card and saying, "I supervise a bunch of churches in this area. So if you or your family need any pastoral care, just call my office and I will make sure a pastor provides care – or I will be there myself." Again, she thanked him profusely and went on about her work.
It was a simple encounter, with compassion offered in a very natural, unoffensive way, and I found myself blessed just to be present and to observe. I also found myself wondering, "Why don't I offer prayer so naturally and simply to those I encounter? Why don't all of us who follow Christ offer such gestures?" And I even wondered, "How much better would our world be if more of us Christians made such positive use of our encounters?"
That example of a person using his "halo" has stuck with me and impacted the way I relate to persons I encounter each day. Romans 12:1-2 in Eugene Peterson's translation called "The Message" says it this way:
So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life – your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life – and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
Our ordinary life can be offered as a gift to God through our encounters with others. That is our "halo." So let me ask again, "How is your halo?"
Sadly, after I wrote this E-pistle yesterday, April 15th, the news came about the terrible violence in Boston where apparently some persons brought an act of terrorism. That sad news reminds us how much our "halo" of interpersonal space can be used for good or for evil. Let us remember those who have been victimized by those terrorist acts in Boston, and let us pray for all around the world who are victimized by violence. And let those prayers remind us to use our own "halo" space for good and for God.