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Pastoral Reflections: Who are you when no one is looking?

This Pastoral Reflections column is written by Pastor John Lestock of Bethlehem Lutheran Church.

Clay Dalrymple was a catcher who played for the Philadelphia Phillies in the mid 1960s. He had a strong throwing arm and solid defensive skills. Yet one of Clay's most memorable moments took place in a ball park, but not during a baseball game!

One evening after a game, Dalrymple was asked to assist a blind girl who requested a chance to walk the bases of the pro baseball playing field. He led the girl from home plate around the bases (and she would stop and touch each base) and back to home. As they walked, Dalrymple never noticed that the fans remaining in the stands had stopped to watch. Because of their silence, he just assumed they had all gone home. Yet as he and the girl reached home plate, the ball park erupted into cheering and applause. It took the catcher off guard, especially since it was more applause than he had ever received during a game!

There are those times in each of our lives when we assume no one is watching and that no one sees. It may be during the smallest of tasks, or the largest of challenges, but the question is: how will we act in those moments?

"Who are you when no one is looking?" is the question Bill Hybels asks in his book of the same name. He contends integrity is formed, not only in front of others, but also by what we do and say behind closed doors.

These are the telling moments of our lives, and the real litmus test of our values, our faith, and what we truly believe.

In the past months, as there has been a good deal of division in our community (as well as our country) I've been told anonymous letters have been mailed to individuals, churches and elected officials. Some of these contained thoughtless words while others were downright hurtful, nasty, and even poisonous. Even more troubling is the suggestion that these were sent by people who claimed to have moral values or to be Christian people.

But do the "ends" ever justify the "means"? How ironic that someone who commits one of the lowest acts of cowardice through an anonymous letter, can be so blind as to believe they have the moral high ground, or that God is somehow on their side!

Ultimately, there are no real secrets in life. There is nothing that really goes unseen. Certainly, God knows all the good and the bad we do. And the nature of our words and actions either bless or soil our lives, no matter how anonymous we think we may be.

So who are you when no one is looking? Hopefully someone's whose words and actions don't conflict. Hopefully someone with the courage, integrity and moral fiber to stand up and be counted for what you believe, not a quivering coward ducking under the cover of darkness and unwilling to take responsibility for their words and actions.

May you and I be intentional and committed to being people of high standards of conduct, moral consistency, tolerance, truth, words that heal, and an insistent on fair play. People of the light! This is what will keep America, and our community, great!

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