Friday, August 25, 2006

Masks...

Masks...facades...secrets...

One of my favorite places in all the world, would have to be New Orleans. A city that's rich in history and architecture, alive with music and mayhem, not to mention the incredible food that's found 'down in the Quarter'...oh and please, don't forget about that crazy chicory coffee! I can envision myself now, sitting at Cafe DuMond with my Cafe Au' Lait and a serving of Beignets. Each time my vehicle heads south and crosses that Louisiana state line, my senses jump with anticipation. Some of my fondest memories , however, are not the 'side show' antics that draw you in like that from a carnival barker. Instead, it's the mystery...the darkness that seems to shroud the very people who call this bayou wonderland, home. It's the ones who continually hide in the shadows of life...in broad daylight...lurking...laughing...crying. There's just something about the mystery behind the mask...

Day in and day out, the locals masquerade in and out with each and every parade...and there is always a parade...hiding their true identity...their true emotion...behind masks of every shape, size and color. Lavish arrays of beauty cover the faces of countless creatures attempting to go...to do...to see...to say...to live in a pretend world that, if only for a moment, escape the sometimes harshness of life.

Simon had a mask...you remember Simon, the apostle with the foot-shaped mouth...the eager, aggressive, bold and outspoken disciple...the one with a habit of revving up his mouth while his brain remained in neutral. Simon...the one Jesus chose to give another name...Luke 6:14 tells us this way: "Simon, whom He also named Peter..." Notice the 'also. Sometimes known as Simon...sometimes as Peter...also, as Simon Peter.

John 1:42 describes to us the first face-to-face meeting between Jesus and Simon. It was at this very moment that Jesus looked deep into the eyes of the man who, in the very near future, would 'walk where no mortal man had ever walked', (Matthew 14:25-33)...would become a master fisher of men (Luke 5:4-11). It was also, in those same eyes that Jesus saw the pain and the struggles of a seasoned veteran of the seas that one day soon would don his mask to blend into the parade of scoffers that chose to destroy the very One who named him "Cephas...which is translated A Stone"...translated Rock...also, as Peter.

But it was in that moment...that one moment where, for Peter, time stood still. That moment where fantasy met reality...that moment where the mask had begun to crumble. It was in the chill of the night when the masses were marching...the screams were deafening, yet Simon heard that haunting sound...the constant reminder that, he was once again looking into the eyes of God's own Son...the One who he had just turned away from for the third time. It was in that moment, when Simon became Peter...darkness had gave way to light...the mask had crumbled.

We too, have masks...

"Father, I've wore a mask for way too long...remove it...crush it...destroy it. Help me to be what You see...the man behind the mask...amen."


Ummmmmm...I can smell that chicory coffee now...the parade is starting...

3 comments:

Jeff Noble said...

Keep 'em coming hot, Jim. Good stuff.

Kristy said...

Jim,what an incredible and insightful post. I think we all wear masks, I might even have more than one. What a great reminder that Jesus wants us as we are, not who we want to be or think we are, even. He knows the real us. I'm not sure if that's scray or comforting-probably both! Like Jeff said, keep em' coming!

Mark W. said...

So, Simon was named "Peter" (rock) because he was "a rock" or "a rock head?"

Super intense post! I love the way the theme of masks works together with Simon Peter's shifting identity as demonstrated by his shifting name. We often wear masks to "appear" as the identity of our choosing, when we should be looking to see what God wants to call us...hopefully not a "rock-head" for all of our willfull ignorance.