Tuesday, February 23, 2010

In Other Words--Masquerade Ball or Wedding Feast?

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I'll never forget the moment. I was at a Steve Camp concert. I was surrounded by loads of fellow believers. And I was having a terrible, no good, awful, very bad day. In fact, I had gone to the concert alone hoping to fade into the crowd and just experience a little of the body of Christ without anyone knowing me. But it wasn't working and I was sitting there in tears before the concert even started.

I looked up and wouldn't you know it, the person sitting in front of me was someone from my Christian Fellowship at University. I did not want to see anyone I knew--I was just too vulnerable on this particular night. But he is an extrovert and he was speaking to everyone around him and he turned around and noticed me. "Hey," he said, "how are you doing?" Huge goofy smile facing my tear streaked face. I did not have it in me to pretend. So I answered, "You really don't care." (yes, I know it was a snarky comment, but you had to know they guy). "Great!" he responded, "glad to hear it!" He turned to sit down. WHAT??!! I could have easily decided at that moment to never be vulnerable within the body of Christ again, to be certain that tears were never seen because words and actions were not even heard. Obviously, he really didn't care and whether I knew it or not, I needed him to care. As I sat there in rather stunned silence, an arm on a body I had never seen before in my life, and would never see again after that night, reached out and hugged me. No words, no platitudes, just a hug. It was a quiet affirmation that Someone cares.

It's been twenty years since that night. And I sit here writing this feeling the same forlornness that I felt that night and remembering the same lessons that I learned.
Vulnerable people take a risk when they show the depths of their heart. That should be held in honor. So when you ask someone heart questions be ready for the honest answer and hold it honor.

That night was the beginning of becoming aware of how many vulnerable people there are all around us. I began to learn, and continue to learn, that if you ask the quiet penetrating question and then waitfor the answer, people open up. I found that the more vulnerable I became the more "real" others became as well.

"So with a painted grin, I play the part again,
So everyone will see me the way that I see them...

Are we happy, plastic people
Under shiny, plastic steeples,
With walls around our weakness
And smiles to hide our pain,
But if the invitations open,
To every heart that has been broken
Maybe then we close the curtain,
On our stained glass masquerade..."

~Casting Crowns~
from the song Stained Glass Masquerade


It's not always possible to live lives totally open. Sometimes those masquerades that we create are for protection of others as much as protection for ourselves. But a masquerade should always be temporary, not permanent. The purpose of the mask should be fleeting. The problem is that so many of us in the church have gotten comfortable with our masks and (worse) with the masks others wear. Masks are less complicated. Openness and vulnerability are messy. God seeks to meet us in the messiness.

Later when Jesus was eating supper at Matthew's house with his close followers, a lot of disreputable characters came and joined them. When the Pharisees saw him keeping this kind of company, they had a fit, and lit into Jesus' followers. "What kind of example is this from your Teacher, acting cozy with crooks and riffraff?"

Jesus, overhearing, shot back, "Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? Go figure out what this Scripture means: 'I'm after mercy, not religion.' I'm here to invite outsiders, not coddle insiders."
~Matthew 9:11-13 (The Message)~


Jesus has made a way for all of us vulnerable and broken people to come to the throne of grace. He has shattered our need to dance the masquerade. He did not invite us to a masquerade ball but to a wedding feast. He's even provided the attire we need to wear!(Isaiah 61:10, Matthew 22:1-13) So, why do so many of us get up on any given day to go to a corporate worship time and before we leave the house put on our mask that says "I'm well, nothing wrong with me." If that is true, then we don't need a Saviour and there is no reason to go to church. We all need a Saviour. We are all unhealthy and broken. We all need healing.

One of the roles of the church is to be the avenue of healing. We are to pick up our fallen brothers and sisters.
If one falls down,
his friend can help him up.
But pity the man who falls
and has no one to help him up!
~Ecclesiastes 4:10~
But how can our brothers and sisters pick us up if we are propped up with masks pretending that we have not fallen? How can we assist them if they look to be standing? In order for us to properly be the church as God has established us, we need to show our needs and we must notice the needs of others. Until then, we will be attending a masquerade ball and not a wedding feast.

Father God, help me to watch with eyes that are blessed by you for those who are hurting around me.  Help me to ask the questions that allow someone to share their vulnerability.  Help me take the time to be present and to listen to their answers--not just their words but their demeanor.  Give me the courage to live a life vulnerable, to allow others to see that I am a broken vessel put back together miraculously through the blood of Jesus.  I want to let go of the mask.  I don't want to be stuck in a masquerade ball trying to determine what is real and what is false.  I want to come to the wedding table and be clothed in robes of righteousness.  Help me to live a life that reflects you for your glory alone.  Amen.

Loni is hosting In Other Words this week.  Come and see what others are writing about the Casting Crown lyrics.

9 comments:

Karen said...

wow, I must have been at that same concert figuratively speaking. The wanting to blend in and not be seen, going to get strength and hoping no one noticed. Praise the Lord for those who sneak up and put their arms around us and not accept the fact that we want to go at this alone. For every seizure I had as an epileptic whenever I came out of the seizure there was always someone there holding my hand. That stuck with me all these years. I want to be that person who holds others hands and sees them thru, not to hide with them or help them put on their makeup or false front but to walk them thru life's roughest roads.

Nic said...

Oh my dear friend, what a wonderful post! I truly and thoroughly enjoyed it. :-) I especially liked your statement "Vulnerable people take a risk when they show the depths of their heart. That should be held in honor. So when you ask someone heart questions be ready for the honest answer and hold it honor." Love you!

Claudia said...

"In order for us to properly be the church as God has established us, we need to show our needs and we must notice the needs of others." How many times do we fail to be the church to those sitting closest to us? It is often easier to reach out to someone we don't know than to someone we do. Oh, how we need the body of Christ to do what it is intended to do. Thank you for sharing.

e-Mom said...

The Lord is so good about bringing the right people at the right time! Thanks for you heartfelt post MiPa.

I'm guilty of expecting care from certain people, forgetting that the ones I expect to care have their own heavy troubles and just can't bear mine too. Fortunately, God sees and hears all, and like a Holy switchboard operator, connects me with those who can care, when I most need it. It's a hard lesson that I have to learn over and over.

Michelle Bentham said...

"Vulnerable people take a risk when they show the depths of their heart. That should be held in honor. So when you ask someone heart questions be ready for the honest answer and hold it honor."

I love what you share here. Cultivating a culture of honor in how we minister often creates a safe place for hurting people to find themselves vulnerable in our presence, and allows us the opportunity to offer them the Presence of our Father instead.

Great Post MIPA... I've missed reading with you all and hearing from you as well. Blessings.

LittleWomen21 said...

"Masks are less complicated. Openness and vulnerability are messy. God seeks to meet us in the messiness."

I never thought of this way. Yes, masks aren't as messy, but they sure do get lonely!

Nic said...

I have given you the BEAUTIFUL BLOGGER AWARD for being such a wonderful friend who is always full of encouragement!

Tami Boesiger said...

I love your prayer, MiPa, and pray it along with you. We need to be both vulnerable and attentive to be effective in the body. Thank you for your post.

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