Monday, October 13, 2008

Look the part

"I thought, do they want me to look the part, or do they want me to be the part?" Pastor Kirby of Clanton Chapel UMC spoke about Matthew 22:1-14 yesterday morning - the Parable of the Wedding Banquet. He reflected on his time as an insurance agent in the 1970's, and how he was told at the outset of his employment that he was required to 'look the part.' But what use is looking the part if you're not actually qualified to be the part? What good does it do to show the world a person that doesn't really exist?

I reflected on this all day yesterday as we went about celebrating the sabbath. We enjoyed the Voices of the Wetlands festival at nearby Southdown Plantation and ate delicious alligator sauce piquant, jambalaya, and shrimp etouffee, washed it down with Dr. Pepper, and feasted on home-made pecan pie and red velvet cake for desert (is your mouth watering yet?) We rearranged the common room of the guest house where we're staying. The hurricane washed away the extra guest trailers, so when a youth group of 50 stayed here last week, many of the youth had to sleep on cots in the common area; it was a mess, as a result. Then it was time to eat again.

Why do humans feel the need to put up a facade? To show other only what they want to see? We make all kinds of fuss over looking the part, but often neglect to cultivate the life that should go along with it.

God calls us to something more: to not only talk the talk, but also to walk the walk. As Christians, as those who profess a love for Jesus Christ, we are called to witness and testimony - and this may be done with our words, our songs, and our sermons. But I often find myself forgetful that there's more than talking like a Christian. I am thankful of the words of St. Francis of Assisi in these moments: "Preach the Gospel at all times," he says. "If necessary, use words." We are called as followers of Christ to truly follow Christ - to walk with God as God walks with us. To live our lives with the full knowledge that we might be the only Gospel that others every read.

How is this done? With acts of kindness, to be sure. In caring for one another, to be sure. In standing in solidarity with our brothers and sisters through this difficult time, most certainly. I am certain that we walk with God this week, as we begin the long process of recovery here in Dulac. Works of mercy are necessary - to meet the immediate needs of our brothers and sisters is an essential business. But to truly become the part, to truly preach the Gospel, it is necessary to work towards the Kingdom of God in other ways. We as a church, as a people of God, as a nation, must strive towards justice. Justice for the Houma people here in Dulac means recognition as a Nation. That they might have as a right, access to medical care and proper education for their children, protection and care of their elders, the ability to govern themselves, the ownership of their land. Justice for the people of Dulac means that when the next hurricane hits the bayou, as it will, people have safe homes, high in the sky and floating like little islands amid the flood waters. If we are truly to be a people of God, committed to the Good News of Jesus Christ, we must walk towards justice and in solidarity. We must be the part.

1 comment:

Amy Ellen Duke-Benfield said...

Thanks for sharing your experiences and reflections. Your thoughts about a lived faith are spot on. You will all be in my prayers this week as you make real God's love for the world. Peace to you! Amy Ellen