The Disguises We Wear

This is a must watch video:

This video has gone viral over the last few weeks.   I found it on Youtube, but is quickly become a repeatedly linked to video from blogs like this all over the interent.

At first it seems like just a cute video, but we need to stop and stay here for a moment.

The man in the cute bear costume; his name is Fabian, and he has a disability.

The disability makes him different, and for the rest of us different is uncomfortable.   As a result we make sure there is a lot of extra space between him and us.

Without that costume and mask, Fabian goes through life alone.

This video asks us to stop and think on that.

With this video front and center in our thinking, I want us to consider something else.   I want us to consider how similar we all are to Fabian.   In our crazy coming and going we expect the seat on the bus next to us to be empty.   We expect to travel life alone.   We compare ourselves to our neighbors, and we think if they ever saw who we really were, that they would not want anything to do with us.   As a result we put on our own masks, and we wear our own costumes.

Despite our tendency to hide, we are children of a promise.   We serve a God who sat with a broken Samaritan woman at a well, became close friends with men and women of the most foul of reputations, stood between an adulterous woman and a stone wielding crowd, and told broken Zachaeus to climb down from his tree.   In these moments is our reminder that there is a real you behind the mask and behind the costume; that God loves, cherishes, and chases.

We come to our communities of faith for many reasons, not least of these is to pause long enough to celebrate that we can stop worrying about the broken pieces.   We come to those places because once there we are reminded that each and everyone one of us – regardless of what the world may say – is a treasured child of God of infinite value.

It is that child we pray will make the journey without the mask and without the costume.  The peace that comes with that recognition is worth celebrating.


The Death Crawl

The Death Crawl
It is not often that I begin a message from a football movie…

Okay… Maybe it is….   Perhaps you can humor me once more.

This clip is from the football moving facing the Giants… Its called the death crawl scene, and it’s a perfect commentary on what we are attempting to do as people of faith.

You and I have the opportunity to become the most influential people in this community.

We not only have centuries of history in this place, in our town, and in our communities, but a giant family that backs us up.

We have something that we claim makes us different and the world outside of our church doors have heard us proclaim just that.

With those proclamations echoing through the air, we need to remember, If you walk around defeated, so will they. Our community needs us. Our community is desperate for us to be different, and needs us to make a difference.   But, it’s not only about our neighbors; it goes further than that.

God has given us a gift, and God needs us.

He has created each of us for greatness, and its up to us to make the decision to be the best we can be. He has created each of us with a purpose and a call. God has created us to change this world, and is waiting for us to do precisely that.   It is a fantastic gift we have been given.

The truth is, when we arrive – week in and week out – to our places of worship, we are making a life changing and community transforming decision. We are saying that our desire to sleep in, our desire to focus on me first, our desire to be someone else will be silenced….because we have a job to do. The voices will be silent, because we have a job that needs doing.

So, because of that holy task before us; we come not only to worship and to offer praise, but to live out that call.   We come to remind ourselves and our neighbors of that responsibility.   We come because we have chosen to be better.

A Beautiful Waste of Time

sistine chapel

I have recently discovered a link which lead me to the most perfect way to waste hours on the net. The link allows you to exlplore the digital corners of the Sistine chapel, inch by inch, and itseems to be exactly what the internet was created for.

For me, the link reintroduced me to a work of art whose story is equally as captivating as the color and images.   Consider with me the history of this painting;

When it came time to refresh the night sky that was originally painted on the Pope’s Chapel, the Pope turned to Michelangelo.   At first he wanted nothing to do with it.   He was a sculptor and was working on crafting this magnificent tomb for the pope.   He tried to convince the pope to go with his competition; a young painter named Raphael.

Eventually, the pope issued a pontifical edict, and Michelangelo had no other choice but realize that was the guy.   Not much wiggle room when it comes to pontifical edicts.

For five years in the early 1500s, the artist Michelangelo laid on his back and painted scenes depicting the fall and the flood on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome.  They say the process was so strenuous he was left almost blind, and with permanently deformed spine.

The marvel of this undertaking was that the first time he saw the painting from the floor, was after it was done and the scaffolding was removed. That reality beautifully testifies to his artistic prowess. Experts argue that no one has ever had such a grasp of perspective in paint and art, since him.

It was instantly a treasure of the catholic church. Yett the magnificent art started to fade almost immediately as the scaffolds were down. Within a century of completing his greatest work, no one remembered what his original frescoes had actually looked like. An official artist in residence was quoted saying in 1936, “We see the colors of the Sistine ceiling as if through smoked glass.”

In 1981, a scaffold was erected to clean the frescoesl. With a special solution, two Art Historians and Preservationists began to gently wash one small corner of the painting. When finished, they then invited art experts to examine the work. The results were stunning. No one had imagined that beneath centuries of grime lay such vibrant colors.

Their success prompted the restoration of the entire ceiling. The task was completed in 1990. It took almost twice as much time to clean the ceiling as the artist utilized to paint it. But the result was breathtaking.

In the end, a Michelangelo was revealed that was unknown by art critics.

That artist was the master of form, and perspective, and his works always resembled more sculpture more than painting. Yet, this “new” Michelangelo was discovered to be one of the most profound masters of color—azure, green, rose, and lavender – to ever hold a paint brush.

And for the first time in nearly five hundred years, people viewed this masterpiece the way it was intended, in all of its color and beauty.

Why do I tell you this story?

To stress the importance of what we are called to do as a church for a new generation.

For too long, we have been citizens of a greater church that lost its way.   We have allowed demands for right thinking or right acting to drown out the true message of this place. We have allowed the loudest voices to own the biggest pulpits.   We have created a church that appears more like that of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.

Because of that reality, most of the souls outside of faith see faith, and see Jesus as if through smoked Glass. Embracing the commitment to be a new voice is akin to washing the grime off the masterpiece. We dull those voices, so that one by one, others can catch a glimpse of the masterpiece – or the blessings beneath.

In case you want to waste your time too:

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