Have you ever noticed that your perception of beauty changes as you age?

In grade school, I thought beauty was dressed in a blue ball gown, danced with a prince, and sang to birds and mice.

In junior high, beauty tight-rolled her jeans at the ankles and used a curling iron, pick, and White Rain ultra hold hairspray to achieve bangs that resembled water shooting out of a fire hydrant.

In high school, beauty stressed that her waist and hip measurements were so much bigger than those of Cyd Charisse, Judy Garland, and every other MGM musical star.

In college, beauty had the perfect smile and the most handsome date.

In grad school, beauty wrote the best papers, sang bel canto, and earned the trust and respect of department heads.

In marriage, beauty had the perfect home.

Today, that beauty grosses me out. Oh, I still chase after her like a fool (though I have retired my tight-rolled jeans), but I know now that she is self-absorbed. She is self-serving. She is consumed with consuming. She is a false product sold to me by a lying world.

True beauty is something entirely different. Beauty is Gloria preparing snacks for the VBS kids summer after summer. Beauty is Elvina getting up every morning during the Christmas season to water the dozens of poinsettia’s at the sanctuary altar, leaning on her walker the entire time. Beauty is Sue driving to Panera late every Saturday night to collect bread and goodies for the Sunday morning crowd. Beauty is Pam arriving to church before the sun comes up to make sure every Sunday school classroom door is unlocked and prepared for all of those precious children. Beauty is Maria making sure the altar guild has hand lotion next to the sacristy sink to keep serving hands from chapping after caring for the Lord’s tableware. Beauty is Joyce seeking out visitors in church every Sunday and making sure they feel welcomed. Beauty is Kate playing her flute for the voluntary in the early service. Beauty is Ann faithfully bringing her children to church and Sunday school week after week. Beauty is Olivia telling her baby brother that Jesus died for his sins.

And, beauty is Jenny walking up to me at the back of the nave and silently handing me her smiling, cooing baby with a look of love and understanding in her eyes.

You know it’s true. Though you have never seen these ladies, you already know them to be beautiful by the good works with which they have adorned themselves.

What joy to be part of such a beautiful Church!