Saturday, July 11, 2009

Popularity Contests

"When the daughter of Herodias came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his dinner guests." Luke 6:22

I am aware that I am very biased about popularity contests. As a chubby and awkward kid, I was never picked first for any team. I think that sticks with you for a life time. Those of us who have been last in contests are very quick to point them out in adult life. The kids who always won the contests rarely knew they were even going on. Neither one has the whole truth. Humans are in competition all of the time. We want to win and be beautiful. We want to get our way and will go to extremes to succeed.

I was sitting outside of the meeting area of General Convention and overheard a conversation. Someone was complaining about the beauty contests and how cruel people in the church can be to one another. They said this with some surprise and much hurt. This fragile human institution, the church, is complicated and hurtful, as tender and vulnerable as the humans that inhabit her. Despite the sometimes horrid way we do business and they way we discount and reject certain groups or peoples, God still blesses our ministries and finds ways through all the brokenness to find hope.

One girl's dance made John lose his head. She won for the moment. John was a political target because he had told the truth about Herodias, who pulled out all her best weapons in retaliation. Truth speakers have very short life spans and never win popularity contests. John lost his head for following God and for speaking truth to power. I pray today that we can, as humans in an imperfect church, offer our imperfections to God's healing touch.

Wondrous God, you fashioned us in your image
forming us with your loving hands,
breathing your spirit within us.

We your creatures are splendidly made
and completely capable of destroying one another.
We look on your creation with contempt and jealousy.

Help us today, to let go of power and competition
rejoicing in our imperfections as they are simply
ways for us to be found again by you.

May our personal and corporate devotion this day
be laced with forgiveness and compassion
clarity about our place in creation
and honest reflection on the harm we have caused.

Make our dance this day be grateful and appreciative
blessed children in the face of our loving creator,
each member necessary to the song, each one step
a humble approach to perfect love reborn within us.

In the name of God, Creator, Redeemer and Holy Spirit, Amen.

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