Tuesday, August 31, 2010


The race for mayor in the District of Columbia is heating up. When I got off the Metro today and made my way to the church, I passed some eight different individuals holding a sign, campaigning for a particular candidate. They were all along the intersection of Massachusetts and Ninth Streets. I passed five different people holding a sign before one of them spoke to me.
"Good morning," he said. "Are you a registered voter in the District?" I explained to him that I am not a resident of the District but still own a home here. He then told me to have a nice day. I decided not to leave it at that, however. Instead, I shared a few thoughts.
"You know, you are the first person holding a sign to speak to me today? I have passed several people holding the same sign but no one else even said, 'Good morning.'" I then told him that him saying "Good morning" to me meant more to me than the sign he was carrying. I then said something that I should not have said. "None of your volunteers seem to really care about the people who are passing them. Are they like the candidate you are representing?"
Again, what I said might have been too much. But, I was so struck by so many people who did not even speak to me - so many people representing someone but relying only upon a sign without even offering a word of greeting.
The church has many signs. We have two crosses in our front yard - crosses that stand some seven feet high. We also have a sign that lights up at night - one that announces how all are welcome in this place. We put out additional signs on Sunday mornings, inviting others to come in. There are signs all around us. Still, these signs mean nothing if the people who put them up are not willing to go the extra mile to welcome someone. If our signs say that all are welcome but our actions speak otherwise, then the signs should have never been ordered. It does not matter how many crosses we have hanging around our necks. If we are not willing to act like Jesus, then the sign around our neck means nothing.
So often, particularly as United Methodists, the marks of a successful pastor are how many people are coming into worship. The fruits to which we are held accountable are how many people worship with us each Sunday and how many new members join each year. Yet, we could have a church filled with people - all 499 places in the pews filled - and if no one goes out into the world to be like Jesus, then it does not matter. What we do on Sunday is not nearly as important as what we do Monday through Saturday. And, the messages printed on our signs in the church yard are not nearly as effective as the messages conveyed through our lives.
I had my mind made up about the mayor's race before walking downtown today. I cannot vote in two weeks but I know who I would vote for in two weeks if I were still a resident of this city. Still, the people who I passed today could have swayed me. The way they interacted with me could have easily propelled me to tell others why they should vote for a particular person. Their lack of engagement spoke volumes instead. Their preoccupation with carrying a sign while failing to say anything convinced me as to why I would vote for the other candidate.
We are the body of Christ and individually members of it. What do our actions say about the one whom we represent? Can others see more than a cross around our necks? Can people see Christ living and breathing in us?
I pray so.

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