Mariachis in a Chevron Station

July 3, 2008 § Leave a comment

This past weekend I preached in a friend’s installation service in Pasadena, California. No doubt, ‘installation’ may seem strange since it refers to human beings. I often say that we pastors are like plumbing – we get installed into churches. We aren’t kings, so we can’t get coronated, and we aren’t presidents, which rules out corporate assumptions – we are pastors, so we get installed.

On Saturday evening I discovered, to my horror, that I had packed my shaving kit on top of my only white shirt. Apparently the kit had some dirt on it, and consequently it smudged the shirt. So I determined to find a store and buy one of those detergent sticks, which I found after dinner at a corner Chevron station shop (an invention right up there with the iPod).

There in the store were three young Mexicans dressed in beautiful costumes – a man and two women. I asked what their costumes meant and they informed me that they were a Mariachi band – they had just performed that evening. When I asked if they could do a number for me they did a quick silly ‘La Cucaracha’ – we all laughed.

Leaving the store, I smiled – it was a sweet moment. And it reminded me that there is much to love in this world that is filled with all kinds of diversity – that God has allowed for beauty to peer through cracks in the ruins.

My message the next day was from Acts 14, where Paul and Barnabas preached in Lystra, and there healed a man born without the ability to walk. What struck me in the passage is that Luke tells us that as he was speaking, Paul gazed at the man. Such a man in Paul’s day was all but ostracized – a social outcast of sorts. He couldn’t take care of himself which sadly translated to having no value to society. But he wasn’t lost on Paul. Paul ‘gazed’ at him.

The scriptures teach that every human being is created in God’s Image – regardless of how they may appear or even initially act, there is something to love in them – something that demands and deserves a closer look.

And sometimes we just have to gaze at folks until we love them. I think this is what struck me about Paul. All that our unnamed, powerless and broken friend needed was someone who saw in him what Jesus already knew – that he had value.

I don’t know if it was the costumes, the sweet smiles, the silly attempt at ‘La Cucaracha,’ or all the above – but something in that moment told me that it is worth keeping my eyes open – watching the world I live in – taking in the faces, the sights, sounds, songs, stories and tastes – ‘gazing’ until love replaces my silly fears and my selfish tendencies. In fact, when all was said and done, it is amazing that those Mariachis even gave me the time of day (or night).

And I guess that is really the point – the Gospel alone enables us to see and be seen through the eyes of Grace.



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