Sunday’s Scripture ~ Isaiah 11:1-10
Sometimes…you just need to stop and read a storybook.
Today’s storybook is You are Special by Max Lucado. It tells the tale of Punchinello, who is on a journey to discover the source of his self-worth. Punchinello is a Wemmick – a small wooden person – and lives in a township full of Wemmicks who were all created by Eli the woodcarver. The Wemmicks have an unfortunate treasured past time – they spend their days mulling around town valuing or devaluing their neighbors through gifting gold star stickers or imposing gray dot stickers.
If you happen to be a Wemmick that is made of smooth wood and fine paint, then you are adorned with gold star stickers. However, if you happen to be a Wemmick that is rough around your edges, with dull paint and perhaps a few chips, then gray dot stickers are not just your fate but your reality.
Can you guess where Punchinello finds himself? That’s right. You can hardly see him for all his gray dots. Shame overcomes poor Punchinello. His identity is lost or perhaps it is eclipsed by the gray dots. He leaves the town feeling utterly worthless.
And then one day he meet Lucia – a Wemmick unlike any other he had met because she had neither gold star stickers nor gray dot stickers. The Wemmicks attempted to gift or impose the stickers, but they did not stick to her! “What a curious Wemmick,” Punchinello must have thought. “How could this be so?” Lucia told Punchinello that the stickers did not stick to her because she decided that she did not care what the other Wemmicks thought. She cared what Eli, the woodcarver, thought because he made her. Lucia invited Punchinello to visit Eli so he could experience the freedom fromjudgment and fount of self-worth she had found.
Cautiously, Punchinello visited Eli. And Eli said,
Who are they to give stars or dots? They are Wemmicks just like you. What they think doesn’t matter, Punchinello. All that matters is what I think. And I think you are pretty special.
The stickers only stick if they matter to you. The more you trust my love, the less you care about their stickers.
You are special because I made you. *
“You are special because I made you,” Eli said.
“You are special because I made you,” God says.
This is the fount of our self-worth. And I find this message particularly meaningful in light of the text from Isaiah this week. The Coming King – our Equitable Lord – will unite unlikely people in his kingdom.
Are we worthy of such a gift? I know I don’t feel worthy some days.
I’m too proud. I’m too stubborn. I’m lacking in faith. I’m lacking in care and concern for others. I participate in gifting gold star stickers and imposing gray dot stickers – and in like measure I have received those stars and dots.
The stars have forged relationships. The dots have forged chasms.
Even in the face of this behavior God sends our Equitable Lord. To bring us under his wing as a mother hen protects her young. To provide for us. To make peace within our individual selves and across our communities. Why? Simply because God made us.
There are no thresholds to cross. There are no benchmarks to meet. There are no prerequisites to fulfill.
God sees us. God hears us. God knows us. God comes alongside us.
God crosses these chasms our gray dots have created.
God comes to us.
This is the gift each of us has received because we belong to God. Receiving this gift necessarily transports us to the edge of the chasm our dots have created so we, after the example of God, can begin to cross the chasms and reconcile with our neighbors. Reconciliation does not take the form of sowing star stickers in our neighbors. Reconciliation takes the form of valuing our neighbors as beautiful children of God because that is what they are.
We are. All of us. Together.
We are standing on the edge and God is ready to walk with us as we cross.
Prayer: “Out of the depths I cry to you; O Lord, now hear my calling. Incline your ear to my distress in spite of my rebelling. Do not regard my sinful deeds. Send me the grace my spirit needs; without it I am nothing. It is in God that we shall hope, and not in our own merit; we rest our fears in God’s good Word and trust the Holy Spirit, whose promise keeps us strong and sure; we trust the holy signature inscribed upon our temples.”** Amen.
*Max Lucado, You Are Special (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 1997), 25, 27, 29.
** “Out of the Depths I Cry to You,” The United Methodist Hymnal, 515.