Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Blue Ribbons

I spent a lot of time last night getting plants and baked goods ready to drive to the State Fair grounds today. It was only last year that I discovered the joy of entering the competitions and seeing what would happen. One of my plants won a blue ribbon last year and I've spent the months since pointing that plant out to visitors as my "blue ribbon plant".

Yet I have many more plants that are healthy and in great shape. Some of them will never be blue ribbon winners at the fair because they are too large for entry into the container-grown plant competitions. Aren't they as good (or maybe better) than my blue ribbon plant?

Sometimes we categorize people in the same way. Everyone knows a few "blue ribbon people"- who are so creative, smart, caring or whatever that their achievements have received lots of external recognition. We often discuss their accomplishments as a way of covering what we perceive to be our own shortcomings. Maybe our school wasn't as prestigious, our office as well-located, our promotion as advantageous, our invention as helpful... so we tag along with our "blue ribbon" friends and acquaintances.

This kind of behavior makes us forget what we are good at, all that we have accomplished and the fact that our opinions, assistance and feelings matter just as much. Martin Luther said the woman who scrubbed the floor in front of the altar is as important to God (and God's work!) as the priest who presides behind the altar. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. (Rom. 3:23) However, God's grace extends equally to all people- blue ribbons, honorable mentions and no mentions.

So remember that today... There's a joke that asks what one calls the person graduating last in ranking out of medical school... "Doctor."

What does one call the last person in any situation? "Beloved by God."

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