Popeye was right when he said… “I am what I am.”

    Each week at Christ Presbyterian Church we come together and express the unique character of community that God has called us to be.  One of my favorite things about being Presbyterian is that while we have many things in common with other Presbyterians we are free to be who we are.  In worship we incorporate many aspects of what people would call “traditional” Presbyterian worship, and we ensure that we adhere to the prescriptions of the Directory for Worship.  Like most of our sister churches, we confess and receive pardon.  We also read Scripture and hear the Word proclaimed in the sermon each week.  Along with many other aspects of worship, we could be judged as being like any other Presbyterian Church. 

    On the other hand we are also a community that is very comfortable with making this “standard” expression of worship as unique to our community as possible.  While many churches will “pass the peace,” most would not do it like we do.  Other churches incorporate a time of shared prayers and may even invite the congregation to lift up prayers.  Yet, there are few that share with the depth and sincerity that Christ Presbyterian Church does.  This is not a judgment on those who do things differently, but is instead an affirmation of the unique character of Christ Presbyterian Church. 

    This unique character extends beyond our worship service.  We also organize ourselves in a different way that is tailored to our people’s gifts and abilities.  We have sought to streamline our ways of getting things done so as to allow even the busiest person to participate. 

    Of course the most unique aspect of Christ Presbyterian Church is her people.  The members and friends of Christ Presbyterian are a wonderful menagerie of characters.  I can say this because I am a unique character too.  One commitment I made when I received a call to be the Pastor of this wonderful church was that I was not going to be anything but myself.  I will admit that in prior calls I tried to be what the Session, congregation and community wanted me to be.  As you can imagine this isn’t a good dynamic for pastoral relationships nor spiritual growth. 

    I have said to a few folks that I am glad that I don’t have to be cool anymore.  This is my mantra when working with the youth.  I don’t have to try and be something or someone that I am not.  Children and youth are especially perceptive when people aren’t being genuine.  So I have grown into the fact that I am never going to be cool.  Children and youth don’t need me or you to be something we aren’t.  They need us to be the person God has created and called us to be.

    This past week we were visited in worship by my two high school best friends.  These were guys I hung out with almost everyday in high school.  Of course the fact that our last names all started with “M” put us in the same homeroom beginning with junior high school.  Unfortunately, I hadn’t seen either of them in at least 10 years.  They both had positive things to say about the hospitality they received, even before everyone knew they were my friends.  They shared one interesting observation with me about worship.  They both were glad to see that in worship, I was just me and didn’t put on a false persona.  As Popeye would say, “I am what I am.”

  • How do people perceive you?  Are you the same person regardless of where you are? 
  • Do you wear a mask at work to hide the real you? 
  • Do you work to keep up appearances or are you the genuine, beloved person God created you to be in every arena of your life?


6 thoughts on “Popeye was right when he said… “I am what I am.”

  1. Well, Geoff, it seems to me that you are now exactly where the Lord intended you to be. God may have it in mind for you to retire from Christ Presbyterian. How joyful is that? As for me, if I wore a mask or labored to keep up an appearance perhaps I wouldn’t be so annoying to people. But here I am, honestly. 🙂

  2. Pastor Geoff,

    I am glad you are yourself. You seem cool to me. I was wondering though. Being in the reformed tradition if you would wear a Geneva Gown while performing your duties as Minister of the word and sacrament? Susie said she didn’t think so.

    Have a good week

    Mike Twedt

    • Mike,

      I’m not sure I understand. I wear a preaching robe on sundays, and occasionally my collar to events or visits. I have friends who wear robe, collar and Geneva tabs. I am not sure I will replace my robe when it gets to the point of needing replacement. It is expensive and really not a necessary tool for ministry. I felt really strange singing a contemporary song with electric guitar while wearing it. I also think that at times it is just a sign of the class divide that I’m not really fond of.

  3. I was confusing the Cassock underneath the robe with the Geneva Gown. I didn’t realize that the Geneva Gown was the basic black gown that I am used to seeing. Sorry about that.

    Now to the point of your posting. I like the way we have our own unique way of doing certain things, like passing the peace. I also like how our congregation has so many different backgrounds but we are all together in our commitment to worshipping Christ.

    I do have a little bit of a mask at work. Only when I figure out that someone is like minded on religion do I really talk to them about Christ or my faith. We are called upon to spread the gospel, but, it is frowned upon or even punished in the workplace now.

    • I think the challenge we have no matter where we are or what we are doing is making sure that who we are is genuine and displays who Christ is. While actively proselytizing is not necessarily appropriate or acceptable at the workplace acting as a good and just person is. I believe there are many who divorce their Christian beliefs when they aren’t in uniquely Christian situations. I have known many people who are vocal church members or leaders in the church yet when you look at the quality of their life outside the community you would have to wonder if they are Christian. As is often pointed out, we can say more about Christ by being Christ in the world then we any words we say. Mike, I have the feeling that while you aren’t running around work quoting Bible passages and giving “turn or burn” sermons, folks around you know you are a person of character and integrity. I also suspect that they know that this is a direct result of your faith.

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