January 4, 2018

What It Is Meant To Be

My wife and I really love New Orleans. The art, music, food, and atmosphere are the perfect place for us to get away. But it’s also a place that makes me think deeply about my work and my call to follow Christ.

I’m a photographer, so I like to get up early and walk around the city taking photographs. When I do so, I inevitably strike up conversations with people. On this trip, I met a jazz musician who plays bars at night, plays in his church band on Sundays, and spends his days playing Gospel music on his trumpet outside Cafe Du Monde. At the end of our conversation, we hugged and prayed with each other...because it is hard to stay strangers too long in New Orleans.

I also met an artist setting up their table around Jackson Square, and struck up a conversation. This person uses a lot of recycled materials, so we talked about how he finds and uses these materials. When I asked him how he would characterize his work, his answer was profound.

“I take what is, and I help make it into what it is meant to be.”

For him, that means old wood becomes a canvas, or old metal pieces become a sculpture. But couldn’t the same be said about us and the Church?

We take what is, and help make it into what it is meant to be.

We take simple bread and wine, and help make it into something more.

We take simple voices and musical instruments, and help make them into something beautiful.

So what if we move this idea beyond worship, beyond our parishes, and dream about “what is meant to be” in our neighborhoods?

Maybe your parish can go to a school, take what is, and by working with teachers and students, help turn that place into what it is meant to be?

Or maybe your parish can partner with a laundromat, take what is, and help turn that place into what it is meant to be?

Our hope is built on this very idea, as Paul says in Romans 8:18, “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us.”

God takes what we are - people who are wearied by the changes and chances of this world - and makes us into something new.

And so our job as Christians, as those made in the image of a creating and redeeming God, is to take what is and help make it into what it can be.

The photo above is Fats Domino’s piano, destroyed in Hurricane Katrina and now restored as an art piece at the Louisiana State Museum. Click here to see what it looked like after the storm. Talk about taking what is and making it into what it can become...

What “could be” in your context? And how can you help it to come to life?