Be strong and courageous.
Do not be afraid;
do not be discouraged,
for the Lord your God will be with you
wherever you go.”
“You are Special” by Max Lucado is the book I will be reading to the nursery school this month. The students will hear about small wooden people called Wemmicks who spend their day sticking stars or dots onto one another. The pretty Wemmicks, who have smooth wood and can jump really high get stars, but the Wemmicks whose wood is rough or who can’t jump, get dots. Some Wemmicks have stars all over them, whereas others are covered in dots.
Punchinello was one of the latter. He tries to jump high like the others, but he always falls. And when he falls, the others gather around and give him dots. Sometimes when he falls, his wood gets scratched and they give him more dots. In trying to explain why he fell, he often says something silly, and the Wemmicks give him even more dots. After a while he had so many dots that he didn’t want to go outside. In fact, he had so many dots that some people would come up and give him one for no reason at all. “He deserves a lot of dots”, the wooden people would agree with one another. “He’s not a good wooden person.” After a while Punchinello believed them.
One day Punchinello meets a Wemmick named Lucia who is unlike any he’s ever met. She has no dots or stars, for some reason on her the stickers won’t stick. Some of the Wemmicks admire Lucia for having no dots, so they run up and give her a star; but it falls off. Others look down on her for having no stars, so they give her a dot but it won’t stay either. Punchinello asks her how she does this and she explains that every day she goes and visits Eli, the woodworker who created all of the Wemmicks. With her encouragement Punchinello gathers the courage to visit Eli himself. When he arrives at Eli’s woodshop he is surprised when Eli greets him by name and welcomes him inside.
“Looks like you’ve been given some bad marks” Eli says.
“I didn’t mean to, Eli. I really tried hard”, Punchinello tries to explain.
“Oh, you don’t have to defend yourself to me, child. I don’t care what the other Wemmicks think…and you shouldn’t either. Who are they to give stars or dots? They’re Wemmicks just like you. What they think doesn’t matter, Punchinello. All that matters is what I think. And I think you are pretty special.”
Eli goes on to explain that the stars and dots only stick if you let them but if you really trust Eli’s love than they will just fall off, like Lucia. Eli tells Punchinello to come see him every day so he can remind him how much he is loved. “Remember, you are special because I made you and I don’t make mistakes.” Eli says. As Punchinello thinks about these words, a dot falls to the ground.
Often we think church is about our need for rest yet it is more than that. It’s an opportunity to feel the deep deep love God has for us, the pride God has in us and his fascination with every detail that makes us who we are. Worship is a time to remember that as creations made by God we are perfect and others are as well. The praises or the critiques that are heaped upon our heads can be crippling but if we have spent time with our creator who loves the ridges and folds others dismiss, we can see these judgements are meaningless and hopefully allow them to slid off us.