|What do others see?
Last Friday I underwent eye surgery for removal of a lesion. Time will tell exactly what that will mean, but because of the surgery my eye was first bandaged, and when the bandage came off, I needed to wear an eye patch to protect the surgical site. Sunday morning during the pre-worship announcements we had a good chuckle as I presented myself as Pastor Pirate, even bringing out Parrot Polly as a sidekick. It’s good to enjoy a laugh every now and then, and especially when it’s a good-natured one. We all had some fun speaking in the language of pirates, and a few people might still find themselves walking the plank before it’s all over. But prayerfully, we worshipped the Lord our God and my difficulty with depth perception did not throw us off a bit.
I will share with you that one of my observations as I wandered around wearing an eye patch was that people are quick to give you second and third glances. Normally, I don’t get much attention as I walk down King Street, unless it’s from someone who sees my clerical collar and asks for assistance. But, it’s entirely different when you wear an eye patch. All of the sudden, people are curious. If for no other reason than it’s unusual, I noticed people taking a second and third glance. Especially children. Maybe they think I’m a pirate in disguise as a pastor, or they think I’m a pastor in disguise as a pirate, or maybe they just wonder why my eye is covered, but they do look! And they look more than once. It hasn’t bothered me, because I know in a few days, I will be back to normal. But it did get me thinking about what people see when they look at us.
As a pastor, it has always been very important to me to represent my vocational calling as a Minister of Word and Sacrament reverently and respectfully. In fact, throughout my entire life, it has been very important to me that I represent Christ and my Christian faith reverently and respectfully. When you profess to be a follower and disciple of Jesus Christ, you are setting yourself up to be scrutinized. Suspicious people will wonder if you are what you profess to be. Non-believers often hope to catch believers in unpleasant situations that have not been handled well, or faithfully. Even the best of us sometimes trip, and when we trip we do not represent our Savior very well. Such is human nature and the reality of sin. But it is important that we who profess to believe in Jesus as Lord and Savior live in such a way that we bring honor and glory to God, his Son Jesus Christ, the Gospel, and the Church.
So, what do you think people see when they look at us? What do they think when they see us go into church to worship? What do they think as they work with us? What do they think as they stand in the check-out line with us? What do they think as they see us interact with others? With the poor? The rich? Children? Senior citizens? Do people see us as professing, practicing Christians in all our activities, or just occasionally? Do you think people see us going about the living of our life, and recognize us as a disciple of Christ? Do we give them enough reason to even guess we belong to the Lord? What do others see when they look at us?
These seem like relevant questions for us to consider in this modern world where all too often it’s hard to tell the difference between the people who are in church and those who are not. I doubt many of us will ever wear an eye patch defining us as pirates, but I would remind us that we all wear the mark of Christ’s cross on our forehead defining us as children of God. The shape of a cross was traced there when we were baptized. As the pastor made the sign of the cross on our foreheads, we were claimed by God as his children, and that will forever be our identity. Sometimes, I wish our cross had been tattooed in a bright color for all the world to see, and us to see too as we look in the mirrors of life. Perhaps then, when people saw us they would know who we are and whose we are.
I’d like to give you something to think about this month. What do people see when they see you? To use a sports analogy, are we involved in the activity of praising God and spreading the gospel, or are we satisfied to be riding the bench as substitutes? Something to consider, don’t you think?
Your servant in Christ,
Pastor Butler +