Not many of you know this, but I am an award-winning actor. Well, actually an award-nominated actor, and if the voting hadn’t been rigged (I believe by the Russians) I would have a coveted Danny Award sitting right now on my bookshelf at church. Admittedly, the nomination was only for Best Supporting Actor, but it still would have been quite an achievement. DeNiro doesn’t have one. Streep doesn’t have one. Hollywood gossip has it that Katherine Hepburn once threw a lead crystal decanter at her butler after he gave her the list of that year’s nominees and she saw that she had been passed over again.
Please don’t get me wrong. I’m not gloating, nor am I saying anything negative about these iconic actors. They just obviously didn’t have what I had – they didn’t have “it”. What is “it”? Well, according to the Danny Awards charter, “it” is an address within the boundaries of the Clovis Unified School District and a part in either a junior high or senior high school play. My house was on Dennis Avenue in the town of Clovis, and my role was Sir Francis Chesney in Clark Middle School’s production of Charley’s Aunt. I was qualified, and my performance was more than qualified. My portrayal of a man romantically pursuing a woman who actually turned out to be another man set the dramatic standard up until the advent of The Crying Game era. Even Miss Koukas, my drama teacher, said the award would have been mine if the district muckety-mucks didn’t insist on giving every award every year to graduating high school seniors. I believe that her thespian opinions should be given great weight – word among us students was that she once starred in a commercial for Prell, so…yeah.
Even though I only did school plays one year (with high school drama came musicals, which I was neither skillfully nor emotionally prepared for), I remember my roles in Charley’s Aunt and, later, in Heaven Can Wait with great fondness. I loved the scary exhilaration stepping onto the stage. The brightness of the lighting blocked out all but an outline of the audience. Then, when the spotlight hit full on, it brought complete isolation from the rest of the world. It was then I could lose myself in the role – I really could become Sir Chesney down on his knee in the living room expressing his undying love to Donna Lucia, who is really Lord Fancourt Babberley in disguise. There’s transformational power in a spotlight.
I was reading in Isaiah this morning during my quiet time. In the 58thchapter, God is calling the people of Judah out for their self-focused fasting. He tells them that they are declaring fasts, but then they go about treating the day like it’s any other day. Instead, He says, their fasts should be effective within and affective without. In other words, they should be seeking to purify themselves inside – in their hearts and minds. But on the outside, they should be making a difference to those around them. He says, “Go ahead and humble yourselves – that’s fine. But don’t stop there. Go address injustice, free the oppressed, feed the hungry, shelter the poor, clothe the naked.” No more sitting and moping during fasts, whining about being hungry and hoping that somebody notices your great piety. Go out and make a difference. Let your sacrifice help others.
What’s the result of this kind of fasting? “Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.” (Isaiah 58:8) When I read about that light breaking forth like the dawn, it made me think of a stage spotlight. Isaiah paints a picture of high intensity – like driving east just after sunrise trying to see through the blue spots that keep photo-bleaching your retinas. That is the power of our light to the people around us when we are serving them in love.
On Sunday, we talked about Strasburg Community Church’s call to be light to our community. There are many ways that we can light up the community like a stage. Through prayer and events and individual contacts, the light of this church will shine brightly with truth and joy and salvation. However, it will be when we go out into the community and serve them that the spotlight will be turned on with an intensity that is impossible to ignore. This is where I would ask you to direct your prayers this week.
Pray for ideas for serving our neighbors on the I-70 corridor. What can we do as a church and what can you do as an individual to meet the needs of those around us? If you come up with any ideas, let one of us Pastor Steves know. As I mentioned Sunday, we won’t use every idea. I spent about an hour-and-a-half today with Pastor Donn Headley from Mountain View Fellowship talking about church and ministry and life, and he told me about his 80-20 rule for ideas. Typically, 80% of ideas will get shelved, while 20% will get implemented. So, don’t get discouraged if one or more of your ideas ends up in the 80 (I think my ratio is around 95-5). It’s as we gather a bunch of creative options and pray them through that the Lord will elevate His plans to the top.
Let’s turn our light on – let people see that Christ can be found here at SCC. And, together, let’s discover where God is calling us to shine our spotlight, so that people can see His truth and find peace and hope and joy in His salvation.