Sunday, October 30, 2011
Who are you?
Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, "The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses' seat; therefore, do whatever they teach you and follow it; but do not do as they do, for they do not practice what they teach. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on the shoulders of others; but they themselves are unwilling to lift a finger to move them. They do all their deeds to be seen by others; for they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long. They love to have the place of honor at banquets and the best seats in the synagogues, and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and to have people call them rabbi. But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all students. And call no one your father on earth, for you have one Father-- the one in heaven. Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Messiah. The greatest among you will be your servant. All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted." Matthew 23:1-12
For years, I had a great time making costumes for my daughters. As they got older, they wanted to do more of it themselves, which usually meant we rushed around at the last minute putting an outfit together. We've always enjoyed Halloween for the sheer joy of dressing and disguises, an evening of welcome imagination and silliness. Emily and Ariel were once Kermit and Miss Piggy, Phoebe and Ariel were Oriole Birds - they've been dead cheerleaders, static cling and several other "different" costumes. No matter what, inevitably someone asks them, who are you supposed to be? No matter how obvious or unusual, some people just don't get it.
Jesus was instructing his disciples, helping them to understand that having a fancy title did not make one faithful or important. Living a life of service was what counted, not ruling over people, or misusing the power given by a particular role. Too often we let our role or title got to our head, when what we are to be called, by following Jesus, is servant of the living God.
As this long day comes to an end, I rejoice that our names our known by our creator and that we are loved tenderly and fully. May we use the gifts and the authority we have been given for the sake of others. May our hands, hearts and voices be given in kindness and love of others. And may we not worry the title we have, or who we are, buy whose we are - beloved of God.