Wearing a mask..?
‘Who’s that clown at the front of the church?’ a little boy was heard to say to his mum – and before you ask, no, he wasn’t looking at me.
Each year, on the 1st Sunday of February, clowns of all ages, shapes and sizes make a pilgrimage from across the world, gathering for a service in East London in memory of the famous British clown, Joseph Grimaldi. ‘Joey,’ as he was known, was born in London in 1778 and, whilst working as an actor, comedian and dancer, introduced the idea of the pantomime dame, the tragi-comic white-faced clown and audience participation. He quickly became a national favourite.
At the peak of Joey’s career, not far from where he performed, a man reportedly visited a doctor begging for help, telling of his desperate loneliness, misery and despondency. The solution given was to visit the local show and watch the famous clown who apparently could make absolutely anyone laugh. The patient looked him with sad eyes and said, ‘But Doctor, you don’t understand! I am that clown!’
We might not all wear white face paint and a red nose but, if we’re honest, we can all be guilty of wearing masks, afraid to reveal the real us for fear of rejection. This is often referred to by psychologists as ‘Imposter Syndrome’ – the fear that the world is going to find us out. For some, one of the greatest fears can be that if we show our true selves, the world will say, ‘Oh, it’s just you.’
Ironically being ‘just you’ is actually the best and most wonderful thing you could ever be. As Oscar Wilde said, ‘Be yourself; everyone else is taken.’
And that, too, seems to be the most intrinsic message of the Bible – you are unique, loved and beyond value. The psalmist writes, ‘You created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.’ (Psalm 139)
And Zephaniah 3:17 underlines the love of a heavenly Father who is smitten by His children saying, ‘The Lord your God is with you, a Warrior who saves you. He will take great delight in you; in His love He will renew you, He will rejoice over you with singing.’
Sadly, in each of our lives we so often see only the mistakes, fractures, regrets and errors. But God is the Potter and we, when fully yielded as clay in His hands, can become ‘a vessel for honourable use, set apart as holy, useful to the Master, ready for every good work.’ (2Tim 2:21)
God has a purpose for each of you and while you still have breath in your body – God isn’t finished with you! His longing is to bless, lead, refine, shape, restore and love you.
As Max Lucado, a great Christian writer puts it, ‘God is able to accomplish, provide, help, save, keep, subdue… He is able to do what you can’t. He already has a plan. God’s not bewildered. Go to Him.’
Priest in Charge Loves church pioneering, family, guitars, Macs, jeeps and Jesus, not necessarily in that order...