Each year the Oxford University Press finds a word that has generated a lot of interest throughout the year and designates it as Word of the Year. For 2013 they selected “selfie.”1 A selfie is a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website.
Last summer, Pope Francis, surprised the world when he posed for a selfie taken by some kids down from the diocese of Piacenza on a pilgrimage. He didn’t actually take the selfie, but he was in the photo as part of the group. It was hailed as the first papal selfie in the history of the church.
Actually, the selfie has been around for a long, long time. Go back 500 years or so, and you'll find famous artists like Leonardo da Vinci, Caravaggio and Rembrandt mixing paints and doing selfies. They were quite clever in how they inserted themselves into their art.
In Leonardo’s “The Last Supper,” many maintain that he painted himself in as two of the disciples. Caravaggio, in “The Taking of Christ” (1602), appears on the far right, holding a lantern. Rembrandt may hold the record for the most selfie paintings (90+). In his famous seascape painting, “The Storm on the Sea of Galilee” (1633), Rembrandt included a selfie in the boat next to Jesus.
Even God has taken a selfie. The selfie is called Jesus Christ. Jesus is God’s self-portrait. He is essentially an Instagram shot of what God is like. But then Jesus Christ also took a selfie. It’s called the church. You, me, we in the church are Jesus’ selfie. What does your selfie look like? What is Princeton showing the world what Jesus looks like?
If ever there was a time for taking selfies – spiritual selfies - then the season of Lent is that time. As we journey to the cross, Christians take a spiritual self-portrait and look at where we are in relation to Jesus. It is a time of introspection and self-examination. We take a snapshot of our hearts in order to identify our sins and go through a process of reflection, repentance and prayer. Then when we take new selfies, hopefully, we the church, will better reflect the divine Selfie, Jesus Christ.
Dear Lord, as we draw closer to the cross of Good Friday, give to us an awareness of our sin. Help us mature into the people you desire us to be. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
In His Word,
Reverend Dee Dee
2 ‘Selfie’ as word of the year: Look at me, OED!, Boston Globe, December 10, 2013, online.