For example, I recently read about a rural middle school in Northwest Florida. The principal of the school was faced with a unique problem and it involved an incorrect way in using a mirror.
At this middle school, a new fad arose among the 8th grade girls with the use of lipstick. They began bringing, sharing, and trading lipstick with their friends to try out all the new styles and shades.
The gathering point for this activity was one certain bathroom at the school. That was fine, but after they tried out all of these lipsticks they would press their lips to the mirror, leaving dozens of lip prints every day.
Every night the custodian had to clean them off, but the next day the girls would put more lip prints on the mirror. Finally the principal decided that something had to be done. So class by class, the principal paraded the 8th grade girls to the bathroom to meet with the custodian.
She explained that all these lip prints were causing a major problem for the custodian who had to clean the mirrors every night. To drive the point home, she asked the custodian to demonstrate to the girls what a pain it was for him to clean the mirrors.
And so the custodian took out a long-handled squeegee, dipped it into one of the toilets, and cleaned the mirrors off thoroughly. The reaction was almost always the same. The girls stood there in shock, glared at each other and squealed, and then hurried back to their classes in disgust.
Since then, there have been no more lip prints on the mirrors.
What is the purpose of mirrors? So, one of the ways that we can use a mirror like the one that I have here, is so that we can see what we look like. (Demonstrate)
But there’s another very important function of a mirror. We can also turn it away from ourselves. Here’s what I mean…
Our scripture readings for today remind us that God has created each one of us to be living mirrors. We are told in the very first book of the Bible that we were created in the image of God. Created in the image of God. We are image bearers of the one who created us. Have you ever thought of yourself as an image bearer?
To help us understand what this means requires that we think of ourselves as living mirrors who have been created to reflect God’s loving image back up to God and reflect God’s loving image into the world. To do that, we need our mirrors to be pointed away from ourselves.
Think of it like this. When we worship God, what we are doing is, we are angling our mirrors so that God’s glory in heaven is reflected back onto God. That’s what we’re doing when we worship. We are reflecting God’s glory back onto God.
And when we are living out our faith by serving others, we are angling our mirrors so that God’s glory in heaven is reflected outward to the people we are serving.
God created us to be living mirrors to reflect God’s glory back onto God which is worship and to also reflect God’s glory into the world in service which is how we are helping to bring transformation to our community and world.
Each one of us was created for this purpose – to be living mirrors who reflect God’s glory to God and to the people around us. The question is if we are aware that we were each created for this purpose.
Our scripture readings from Revelation and the Gospel of John are meant to encourage us to be living mirrors for God.
Let’s begin with being a living mirror of worship. In the Book of Revelation, the prophet John has a revelation in which he gets a glimpse of what is taking place heaven. Have you ever wondered what heaven is like? John is here to help you.
In this heavenly scene, John is worshipping along with thousand and thousands of God’s people. How he found a parking space, I have no idea.
He totally missed the pre-service Connect Time refreshments, because the heavenly choir has already started to sing their rousing anthem. They are singing their praises to Jesus Christ, the one who died on a cross and rose from the dead for the redemption of the world. That is the focus of this worship gathering.
I sure hope John had ear plugs because after this powerful heavenly anthem, all of creation in earth as well as in in heaven sing and worship together. Just imagine the record offering they probably had! That’s the pastor in me wondering about things like this.
This worship scene reminds me of some of our own worship services here where God is so incredibly present through music, through prayers, and through the reading and proclamation of God’s Word. There are times when we feel God’s presence more than at other times, but for John, heavenly worship is always that powerful and meaningful. There are no “low Sundays” as we say here on earth.
I believe John’s vision of worship in heaven is to remind us that this is what we have all been created to do. We are image bearers. We are living mirrors who reflect God’s glory back onto God. This is the basic meaning of worship.
Soren Kierkegaard, the 19th century Danish philosopher pointed out that most Christians have a misunderstanding of what is happening when we worship. Using the analogy of a drama performance, many of us think of the pastor as the actor and the congregation as the audience. Kierkegaard said that true worship is really where God is the audience, the people of the congregation are the actors, and the pastor is the prompter.
I like that. This analogy helps us to see that when we worship together, we each take on an active and not a passive role. We’re not the audience. God is the audience who takes delight in us offering our praise and thanksgiving. Our singing, our liturgy responses, our prayers, our offering, our fellowship throughout the worship service are all ways that we are invited to be actively engaged in worship and not passive spectators.
Whenever we offer our worship in this spirit of engagement, we are being the living mirrors that God has created us to be where we reflect God’s glory back onto God. And that’s not just supposed to be on Sundays here in church. We have been created to worship God each day.
The second way that we use our living mirror is by angling it in such a way that God’s glory in heaven is reflected back into our community and world as we serve others.
In our Gospel reading, we have the story of when Jesus meets up with the disciples following his resurrection. Jesus tells Peter to feed and tend his sheep. And in the last verse of our Gospel reading, Jesus tells Peter, “Follow me.”
To follow Jesus means that we are his disciples. It means that we will love others the way that Jesus loves others. It means that we will serve others the way that Jesus served others.
Or to quote our own Mike Sweeney from his excellent graduate commencement address on Friday when he reminded the graduates of this lyric from a Bob Dylan song, “You’re gonna have to serve somebody.”
Worshipping and serving are what it means to be created in the image of God. We worship God by reflecting God’s glory back onto God and we serve others by reflecting God’s love out onto our community and world. We are living mirrors.
How are you a living mirror of worship?
As you know, our church hosts several of the Ohio University choral concerts here in our sanctuary. Those concerts are usually packed where people have to sit up in the balcony. The music is always phenomenal and uplifting.
One of those university concerts was based on the Psalms. During the concert I was seated in the back of the sanctuary. At one point during the concert, I happened to look up to the balcony, and I noticed a man totally engaged in the music. It was a Psalm of praise and he had his arms outstretched during that inspiring piece. He wasn’t a spectator in that moment. He was fully participating in his own way. He was angling his mirror upward to heaven where God’s glory was being reflected back onto God through that beautiful music.
That moment made me smile as I thought about how that concert turned into worship for that man. Maybe he felt a little like John who was caught up in that heavenly worship experience.
How are you a living mirror of worship and secondly, how are you a living mirror of service?
I know of someone who started a ministry in reaching out to people who live in poverty. He doesn’t just help people in need of shelter or a job. He does something so much more. He invites them to live in community where they feel welcomed and affirmed.
He serves the way that Jesus served. Many, many people have been blessed through his ministry which has spanned over thirty-eight years.
Here’s the really interesting thing about these two examples of worshiping and serving. The man who attended the concert here in our church and the man who started a ministry for the poor are the same person.
You probably have heard his name. Keith Wasserman, director of Good Works here in Athens.
Keith is a great example of someone who is a living mirror in the way that he reflects God’s glory back onto God and reflects God’s healing love out into our community and world.
This is what it means to be created in the image of God. Worship and service. Worship and service.
And of course, the ultimate example of someone who is a living mirror is Jesus Christ. Through his ministry, his teachings, his healings, his serving, his death, and his resurrection, he was always reflecting God’s glory back unto heaven and also outward into a broken and hurting world. Jesus, the perfect image bearer of God’s love.
Next time you look into a mirror, remember that you have been created in the image of God. You are a living mirror.
Sermon Discussion Questions
Revelation 5:11-14 & John 21:1-19
May 5, 2019
In the Book of Genesis, we are told that human being were created in the image of God. Being created in the image of God means that we are to reflect God’s glory back onto God (worship) and also to reflect God’s glory into the world (service.) A helpful image in thinking about this is a mirror which if we turn it away from ourselves, we can reflect God’s glory back to God and into the world.
Share some ways that you can reflect God’s glory back onto God. What are some ways that you can reflect God’s glory into our community and world?
Soren Kierkegaard, the 19th century Danish philosopher said that when the church gathers for worship, we should see ourselves as actors, the pastor as the prompter, and God as the audience.
What does Kierkegaard’s image of the importance of Sunday worshippers being the actors rather than the audience mean to you?
Our scripture readings emphasize the importance of being image bearers by worshipping and serving. In the Book of Revelation, John gets a glimpse of heaven in which everyone is praising God with all of who they are. In the Gospel reading from John, Jesus invites Peter to feed and tend his sheep which is about serving.
Why do you think worshipping and serving God are the two ways that we live out what it means to be made in the image of God?
Jesus, who was the embodiment of God was the most complete living mirror in reflecting God’s glory through his life, death, and resurrection.
What are some specific ways that can help you keep your focus on Jesus each day to help you to be a living mirror?