Thursday, January 1, 2015


Times Square 2015, Internet Domain
Face in the Crowd, Internet Domain


An estimated one million people from all over the world crowded into New York City’s Times Square to celebrate the arrival of 2015. Recent cop assassinations and terrorist threats prompted new security measures including the herding of folks into metal rail pens. They were wanded for guns and knives while hundreds of backpacks were confiscated in response to the Boston relay bombers. If you wanted to be in a strategic place, you arrived as long as ten hours before midnight. If you left your designated pen you could not return, which prompted some diehards to wear adult diapers. Welcome to the new normal of 2015.

It’s truly amazing what sort of events will prompt human beings to gather in large crowds to either celebrate or riot. And as George Carlin famously stated, “Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups”. For starters, we’re a very curious bunch. We’re drawn like a moth to a flame whenever something out of our normal experience happens. We’re drawn to big sporting events and we’re drawn to big personalities. Whenever a human being has been singled out of the crowd because of something they have accomplished or some skill they have mastered over the teeming masses, we all seem to migrate their way. I’ve sat and watched in awe as large crowds at a major golf tournament gathered around a green and then quickly dissipated as a big star approached the hole, putted out and then walked off to the next tee. People pressed against the ropes vainly seeking an autograph or the slim chance to high five the hand of their idol.

When the unsinkable luxury liner Titanic hit an iceberg in the Atlantic and sank, a New York newspaper devoted a feature article to the death of millionaire John Jacob Astor. As a footnote to the article, it was mentioned that 1,800 other souls were lost. The Gospel of Matthew tells the story of a woman that was among a large crowd that had gathered to see and hear Jesus. The woman had suffered for years from a blood discharge which rendered her unclean and an outcast from her culture. In the midst of all the shoving and posturing to be close to him, the woman abandoned all shame and fear to maneuver herself close enough to him as he walked through the crowd to touch the fringe of his robe in the hope of a miracle.

This woman was just another face in the crowd of no distinction, but Jesus didn’t see it that way. God is not like the world which can readily reduce and file away most human beings as an ID number and a password, which can be hacked and abused. He loves and knows every unique soul that is created and chose to heal this woman as a demonstration of his love and power. And he has promised to be with us always. The story of this woman’s faith should give us all pause to resolve to enter another New Year with the fearless hope of new life and new opportunities, apart from the madding crowd!

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