Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.
I love to read. I love reading fiction in order to jump into a world I could never imagine. I love reading theology to help open my mind to all that God has done, is doing, and will do. And I love reading out loud to others.
I’ve often joked that if the whole “being a pastor thing” didn’t work out, I would love to be paid to make audio recordings of books. Between making up voices for particular characters, and adjusting my pitch to reflect the tone of a sentence, I just love reading out loud.
So when I was invited to read to a few classes at Featherstone Elementary School this week (to celebrate Dr. Seuss), I jumped on the opportunity.
My first class was filled with excited four and five year olds who mistook their teacher when she informed them that I was there to read Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham; they thought I was Dr. Seuss.
So I went along. And, for what it’s worth, they really liked my book.
My second class included those throughout the school who are autistic. I sat on the floor, and began reading The Cat in The Hat, when the teacher asked me to say something about the characters in the story. I tried to unpack the concept of character as best I could and then I resigned myself to just ask the question, “What is a character?”
Each of the students gave it a whirl, some of them getting closer to a definition than others, but then the last student spoke and this is what she said: “Character is doing the right thing even when no one is watching.”
I know that I froze for a few seconds as her theological wisdom percolated in my mind.
Of course, she was referring to one’s character and not the character of a story, but her answer was so profound that I haven’t been able to get it out of my head.
In church I, or any leader, might say something like, “let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord” and though we specifically mention being in the sight of God, what we really mean is that we hope we say and do the right thing in front of everybody else!
How often do we do what we do so that we might be seen doing what we are doing? Do we do the right thing even when no one is watching? Or, perhaps it’s better to put it this way: Do we do the right thing even when God is watching?