A United Methodist Pastor's Theological Reflections

"But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory (nikos) through our Lord Jesus Christ." - I Corinthians 15:57

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Dave's Deep Thoughts

Here's Pastor Dave McDowell's weekly devotional that he sends out to members of his church. Dave is my brother and serves as the Music Minister at Stewartstown UMC in PA.

Should we be so surprised?

She walked onto the stage,
and proceeded to shock the world.
She demanded to be heard,
and she was.....
as people were captivated all across the planet.

Most of us watched
through the internet and other media.

She was frumpy,
her hair unkept,
there was nothing about her
that was very appealing to the eye.
She would more likely invoke a roll of the eyes
as she dared to tread where only the beautiful usually dare venture.

The panel of judges expected this to be comic relief,
after all, what beauty could come from someone who looked like this?

And then she opened her mouth and sang.
Jaws dropped, eyes widened,
breath was gasped
for sublime beauty revealed itself in her voice.

She sang about dreams,
dreams that had faded away,
but she was living out the dream of her life.....
to be noticed as someone of value and worth.

The response was immediate.
The judges gushed with apologies,
the audience responded with adulation,
media flooded her with photographs and interviews.
The world took notice.

It often does when it is surprised.
How could such beauty come forth from someone so ordinary?
How can a voice that stirs our souls come from one
who barely attracts our attention?

We think we are beyond the days of caste systems,
but they live on within our hearts and minds....

On the other side of the ocean,
another drama unfolded.
This one much more serious and sinister.
A trail of robberies and murder.
All women,
all who were offering services
that would draw the disapproving eye of society upon them.

But instead it drew something else.
One who seemingly could find no worth in their existence,
except for his advantage and his rage.

Motives emerged as evidence mounted ***
Gambling debts were mentioned
in an attempt to explain
how one could so brutalize another person
in order to feed his need.

Once again
jaws dropped, eyes widened,
breath was gasped.....
as we looked upon the hideous
that appeared to be embodied in beauty.

He was the type of young man
that any father would pray to walk through the threshold of her home
with his daughter arm and arm.

A medical student,
with a handsome face and strong build.
All-American good looks,
and a promising future.

How could such darkness come forth
from someone so beautiful?
How could such a handsome face
and pleasant personality so deceive us?

We think we are beyond the days of caste systems,
but they live on within our hearts and minds....

We judge constantly on outer appearances,
and when those appearances deceive us,
we are shocked.

But what if she had no voice that sang with the angels?
Would there still be no beauty within her?

And what if he was not so possessed by evil?
Would there be no darkness within him?

We continue to judge based on what we see on the outside
We have not changed.
We continue to misunderstand who we are.

All wonderfully made,
all tragically flawed...
yet all capable of being fulfilled in Christ.

We all bear beauty,
we all embrace darkness.
We all find our completeness
in the One who formed us and restores us.
And that is a matter of the heart, or the skin.

Should we be so surprised?

"For the Lord sees not as man sees,
for man looks at the outward appearance,
but the Lord looks at the heart."
1 Samuel 16:7b

*** The author acknowledges the innocence of this person until proven guilty by our judicial system.

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