It was a Farmer’s Market in a large Central Valley city. A full block of fruits and vegetables, hand made baskets, dog treats, nuts, and cheese. An adjacent parking lot was completely full of cars on this Saturday morning. Shorts, tee shirts, jeans, and other casual attire were the dress code.
And there! She stood out. You couldn’t see her face or form. Black burka covering her from head to toe.
The burka was a reminder of how far away she was from everyone else at the farmers’ market, not even an ankle showing. Drawing stares from all the other attendees. Requiring the utmost resolve and courage on her part.
Even without the burka she probably felt her difference, especially if she came here from the Persian Gulf region. Different in language. Different in customs. Different in foods eaten. Different in a thousand ways.
It seems like a primitive way to express one’s faith and commitments. But the audience to which Peter wrote his two letters practiced separation for many of the same reasons. In fact, Peter called them “exiles of of the dispersion,” and his letter is filled with words like foreigner, stranger, and sojourner.
The didn’t wear burkas, but they expressed their faith by not participating in the profligacy of the world around them. “You are a….royal priesthood and a holy nations,” Peter told them.
Though I feel sorry for the lady at the farmers’ market, I also admire her. Against the tide of public opinion and lowered moral codes she wore her burka and, by so doing, was saying that she would resist. That in itself is a courageous act.
So also the “exiles” that Peter addressed that did not allow powerful societal pressures cause them to yield and become like everyone else.
That is the mark of a great person.