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POSTED: October 2, 2007 5:04 a.m.
When I was a boy of 10, I never thought a major lesson of my childhood would be showing up. Showing up today seems to be a more and more rare behavior.
Why show up at work, church, parties or meetings if there is a convenient excuse to prevent you?
The lesson for me came from cows. They don’t wait very well. Whether there is darkness, sunshine, rain, wind or snow, cows must be milked twice daily. (We can miss this fact if we’ve always picked up milk at the grocery store.)
Unmilked cows get mad. Few things are worse than a mad cow. So every day I would trudge off to milk the small herd of my uncle’s cows. Some days they would chew their cuds contentedly while other days they would be angry and lash out with a good kick.
Many days, especially in the mornings, I would have given anything for a good excuse, but the cows had to be milked. The benefits of showing up were clear to me only after I began milking.
Showing up today is critical for many professionals. Soldiers must show up. Firemen and police must show up. Teachers, surgeons, nurses, to note just a few, must show up. If they don’t, our health, education and freedoms could be lost.
Showing up is a most important part of the call of a minister also. Showing up when people are joyous over a new birth. Showing up to baptize the believer.  Showing up to celebrate the wedding. Showing up at the sick bed. Showing up at service after service to teach the Word and to feed God’s people with communion. Showing up requires faithfulness but gives great joy.
The Gospel of Luke, Chapter 14 tells of a king who was having a wonderful dinner and invited all the right people. The problem was they did not want to show up. One had bought land he had to see, another a yoke of oxen he had to try out and the third had just married. All had excuses on why they could not show up. Well, they missed the party and lost out on God’s eternal feast. Others were invited in their place.
Employers have told me how difficult it is to have employees show up. Supervisors have groused about not being able to rely on workers. Even workers have talked about how they must carry the load of two because someone did not show up.
Today, we cannot count on those invited to reply or show up. What drives this trend? We do. As we become more concerned about how we feel at any one given moment than about our responsibilities, we threaten our place at God’s eternal feast. We may be blinded to the eternal view by our short-term view. The problem with not showing up is that the day may arrive when our invitation to life has been missed altogether.

Carter is rector of St. Philip’s Episcopal Church in Hinesville.
 

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