Morning Worship: ‘Stop asking God why you are not like other people’

“There are names that stand out culturally and, in our faith walk, some shining lights whose faith journeys and lives we learn from and are inspired by,” said the Rev. William Watley at the Friday 9:15 a.m. morning worship service. “Adam, Moses, David, Daniel, Peter, Paul, Joseph and Jesus. Eve, Deborah, Mary, Ruth, Naomi; they have a stature in faith and culture that is familiar enough for people to know they are related to the Bible.”

Watley’s sermon title was “You are Still a Shining Star” and his Scripture text was Genesis 1:14-16.

“I remember a young man who was moving in on a young woman I was interested in,” Watley said. “She rebuffed him and he said to her, ‘You don’t like me because you go to church. But I know a lot about the Bible. I know all about Moses and how he put all those animals on a boat.’ ”

There are names that people associate with certain fields, said Watley. He named Warren Buffett, Beyonce, Steve Jobs, Snoop Dogg, Oprah and Ronald McDonald.

“Even if you are not a follower of these people, they are major names, they are names that stand out,” he said. “These trendsetters can make us look at our lives, and we begin to doubt the impact of our lives and our self-worth.”

Watley said that former President Bill Clinton is only 10 months older than he is.

“I am grateful for what the Lord has done in my life,” he said, “but I was a bit taken aback to realize that, in the same amount of time, [Bill Clinton] managed to become president and a world leader.

“We can’t measure the significance and meaning of our lives against household names. Before we begin self-denigration, we need to remember that even in Scripture there are people’s names we don’t know but whose lives still have an impact among us.”

Watley referenced many unnamed figures in Scripture, such as the slave girl who directed Naaman to Elijah and the innkeeper who made his manger available to the newborn Jesus.

“We don’t know their names, but 2,000 years later we repeat their words and those texts inspire us,” Watley said. “They are examples of courage, faith, love and commitment from people whose names we do not know.”

The sun and moon light the day and night, Watley said.

“We can’t imagine life without them, and our lives are aligned to them,” he said. “But they are not the only stars in the sky. There are other stars with more light, more intensity, more heat. Their starness does not depend on us recognizing them.”

Watley said that one doesn’t need to depend on another’s recognition to affirm that he or she is a “star.” Every star is locked in place and is limited in its reach and impact.

“Human beings have the right of realignment,” he said. “If a star has sold us a bill of goods that we can’t make it without them, we can move to the light of another star.”

Watley suggested there are people who are stars on the football field or the basketball court but can’t handle money. There are people who are stars in the classroom but can’t cook.

“Pay no attention to those who can’t do what you can do,” he said. “Don’t compete with living legends. Don’t lose sleep over people who are hung up on ‘the good old days.’ Since you are on the floor, since you have the ball in your hands, just play your game.”

Lastly, Watley said, there is more than one way to be a star.

He shared the story of his quest to get a varsity letter in high school. When he tried out for the football team, he broke his nose on the first play. He pulled a muscle running track. He got cut from the basketball team on the first try, and he was second string on the swim team.

“I discovered that [my school] had a debate team,” Watley said. “I may not have been much of a preacher, but I knew I could talk because I had talked my mom out of a bunch of butt beatings. I got to be president of the society, captain of the team, and I lettered twice. On the [school] sweater I had a stripe to show that I had lettered twice and a star to show that I was the captain.”

God has given everyone a place, he said. One doesn’t have to meet society’s standards to be a star. One can speak what he or she believes to be the truth. One can stand by his or her friends and fulfill his or her responsibilities.

“This is what real men and women do,” he said.

“Stop asking God why you are not like other people or why you don’t have what they have,” he said. “You are a star. If you still don’t believe that, I invite you to follow the savior Jesus. Jesus Christ will make you a star, and you will walk in the light — the light of the world.”

The Rev. Edward McCarthy presided. Katrina Entwistle and Joseph Mghames from the International Order of The King’s Daughters and Sons Scholarship Program read the Scripture. Katrina read in English and Joseph read in Arabic. Katrina is from Ottawa, Canada and is studying biological sciences at Carleton College. Joseph is from Zouk Mosbeh, Lebanon and has received a bachelor’s degree in human resource management and a master’s degree from the Bordeaux Business School in France.

The Motet Choir sang “You Gotta Have Religion” by Noble Cain. Jared Jacobsen, organist and worship and sacred music coordinator, led the choir.  The Carnahan-Jackson and J. Everett Hall Memorial chaplaincies supported this week’s services.