Who do you look up to?
I was thinking… We all look up to someone, don’t we? And, faith can be way in which we live that out.
Have you ever hosted a meal or drinks, or such, where you had a “guest of honour”? It may have been someone who was something of a celebrity, or perhaps someone held in high esteem. It seems to me that, those people who we look up to are those who, at least in one way or another, epitomize what we want for ourselves or for the world. …so we may even try to be like those people.
Talking in terms of faith, each major tradition has a person – or several – who are virtuous in some way, so people follow them. For Jews, it’s Moses; for Muslims, it’s Mohammed; for Christians, it’s Jesus, and so on. Each had characteristics that were so exceptional to their time and place that people saw something “divine” in them.
I wonder if that’s what we see in our honoured guests today. I know that people scoff at the idea of religion a lot of the time, especially in the culture to which I belong. But I suspect that there is still this desire to be better – individually and collectively – and we look to those who have those desirable traits. They may be good speakers; they may be artists; they may have compassion for people. Whatever it is, we all can think of people who we look up to. …people we’d like to commune with; people who may or may not be living (think of all the magazine surveys or online articles that put that question out there: if you could go for dinner with anyone dead or alive, who would it be?).
Actors, big-business people, and politicians tend to get the most press – we tend to hear about them a lot in the media. Are they the ones we look up to today? Do they set the tone for our culture? They certainly know how to spend money and live lavishly – is that what we care most about these days?
As my congregation gears up to host its fifth, annual Ascension music festival tomorrow evening, I’m recalling having shared a meal, even several, with one of my heroes who happens to be a composer. They’ve written many songs and hymns. A big part of what I appreciate about them is how they’ve found new language and words to express things I believe about welcome and caring – one of their lyrics paraphrases a Hebrew scriptures prophet: “”You have been told the way of life, the way of justice and peace: to act justly, to love gently, to walk humbly with God.” We’ll be singing some of their music tomorrow – I look forward to it!