The Message - “But friends, that’s exactly who we are: children of God. And that’s only the beginning. Who knows how we’ll end up! What we know is that when Christ is openly revealed, we’ll see him—and in seeing him, become like him.”- 1 John 3:2-3
When I was in junior high, I wanted to be like Deannie Harold. Deannie was a senior then and had been crowned Rockwood Area High School’s Maple Princess. That was a huge deal back then. A girl had to be a good student, be able to perform a talent before an audience, answer questions from the MC, look good in an evening gown, and have an engaging personality. Deannie was able to do all of these things plus she was beautiful and wowed the audience with her rendition of “Tammy’s in Love.” We all agreed that Deannie was the best Maple Princess to come along in quite a while.
But of all the qualities that Deannie possessed, she was respected and admired for being just plain nice. She spoke to everyone in the same kind way – even the kids nobody else would bother with. It’s not that she was a pushover. She had a great sense of presence that never changed from one person to the next.
I never became like Deannie. But what I remember most, was not that she was our Maple Princess. What stayed with me over the years was her innate kindness. She was the first young person I was aware of who seemed completely comfortable with who she was and didn’t see kindness as something to be doled out only to the worthy. She was genuinely kind. That really made an impression on me.
Maybe you’ve run into a person or two who’s made you want to emulate him/her – or certain parts of their personality or style. That may be one of the ways that God helps us to grow. We can’t recognize something that we don’t already have inside us. That’s a learning in itself. As the psalmist says, “Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls… (Ps. 42:7).” Something deep inside us resonates with something in that other person calling us to a new or different way of being.
So it is with Christ. Recognizing our identity as children of God, we begin a journey that attempts to emulate Christ’s teachings and ministry. We hear the stories. We study the stories. We sing the hymns. We pray as we’re taught. We do service in the community. We worship together.
These are all important pieces of progressing through our faith life. The passage from 1 John takes us even further saying that this is just the beginning of our faith walk. When, along the way, Christ is revealed to us, when we slowly but surely “get it,” we will absorb all of what came before - and yet more - into our very being. It’s like the Emmaus Road experience when the disciples reheard the prophets’ and Jesus’ teachings and suddenly recognized Christ – in the breaking of the bread.
Martin Luther said it this way, “We are not yet what we shall be, but we are growing toward it, the process is not yet finished, but it is going on, this is not the end, but it is the road. All does not yet gleam in glory, but all is being purified.”
The road we’re on right now is trying and arduous. We’re called to reach back and review all that our faith has taught us. And then, in our sorrow or fear or anger or despair, to recognize that this isn’t the end. As our Conference Minister, Carrie Call, said in a recent Zoom meeting, “We’re moving forward.” She also said that none of us will emerge from this the same nor will the world in which we’ll find ourselves be the same.
There is a road and we’re still on it. The painful aspects of the journey are shared as we all move forward together.
Christ is often revealed in the thick of suffering and heartache. In our weariness, let us slow our steps even more to listen to that Word that calls deep to deep. And allow this experience to help us become more and more Christ-like.