Be Perfect, as Your Heavenly Father is Perfect!
Kay Dudley was in church last Sunday. Kay is the sister of Peggy Dudley. Peg Looking at the photo of Kay makes me think about her sister, Peggy. Peggy Dudley is a world-class bassoon player who has spent much of her adult life playing in Frankfurt, Germany. In high school, she and I performed in the symphonic band at the Cass Technical High School. Our conductor was Harold Arnoldi. Mr. Arnoldi was a task-master who demanded the best from each of his musicians. The band practiced one hour each day, but during our concert season, we also would stay after school and practice for another hour or two. At 7AM, the various musical sections would practice for an hour separately in what was called, “Sectionals.” I was a trombone player and practiced with the trombone players. Peggy would rehearse with the bassoon players. I was always proud of Peggy because every now and then, without any warning, Mr. Arnoldi would point his baton at her, bend his head over his neck, squint his eyes at her and shout, “Play!” In the two or three years that Peggy and I played in the symphonic band, I never heard her miss a note! She was always prepared, always ready, always perfect in her performance. In high school, Peggy and I did not have a lot of interaction. She was seated with the other bassoon players, somewhere in the middle to the left side of the rehearsal room. I was stuck in the upper back row with the trombone players.
After my mother died, for two years before remarriage, my father and the mother of Kay and Peggy would accompany each other to hear the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Mrs. Dudley had experienced a stroke, but her love for music never diminished. I would drive Mrs. Dudley to church during the week where she would answer the phone and greet visitors. After I was called as pastor, she was one of the first senior citizens to volunteer at my church on a regular basis. She would also ride with me as I would take my sons to school. At one point, my youngest son asked me to play a Louis Armstrong CD. One of his favorite songs was, “What a Wonderful World.” When the song ended, Mrs. Dudley shared with us that she had been a friend a Louis Armstrong. When my sons got out of the car to enter the school, Mrs. Dudley smiled and began to tell me some of the interesting quirks about the personal life of the great trumpet player. Mrs. Dudley was a great musician and it became clear to me that Peggy Dudley was the second generation with the DNA of exceptional music
Kay came to church last Sunday to join other women who were members of a girl’s club in high school called, The Co-Ette Club. Mr. Arnoldi, the conductor of our band would forbid us from playing popular music, but unbeknown to him, I had organized a R&B band that played high school dance parties on the weekends. For at least two years, my band played the Co-Ette Club “Charity Ball” on the lower level atrium of the Ford Auditorium, that backed up to the Detroit, River. Kay and several other girls that I knew were members of the Co-Ette Club and on that night, they would dress up in long formal gowns and look spectacular. When I was in high school, I was just starting to notice how attractive my classmates were. Monday through Friday they wore their school clothes, but during the “Charity Ball” the girls seemed to soar to another level of beauty and grace.
I am so sorry I was not in church Sunday, because I preached in Baltimore, Maryland, at one of our new church starts, New Covenant Community United Church of Christ. The Co-Ette Club had its reunion at my church in Detroit. The women raised enough money to donate two computers to our church Computer Mission, which provides new computers to inner city children.
Many of the former members of the Co-Ette Club have relocated from Detroit, Michigan to other places around the county. Dr. Fern Nelson came all the way from San Diego, California. Elizabeth Ross traveled from Connecticut to attend the reunion.
I am so sorry I missed seeing all the women. Each of these women are women of class and dignity. Many of the women I know personally and have kept in touch. Seeing the photo of Kay Dudley reminds me of her sister, Peggy. Peggy was a role model for me in striving for excellence.
Jesus Christ commands us in the Sermon on the Mount to strive to be perfect, as our father in heaven is perfect.
Matthew 5: 43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. 
Perfection is difficult, if not impossible, but Jesus Christ has commanded that you and I strive for the best, hope for the best and be the best that we can be.
Matthew 5: 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. 
Questions for Reflection:
- Does the command of Jesus to, “Be perfect” seem overwhelming?
- Why do you think Jesus commands his followers to, “Be perfect”?
- What is the mindset that prevents us from attaining the perfection that Jesus commands?
Prayer: Lord, help me to strive for the perfection that you desire. Teach me to rise above the temptation to seek revenge and domination of those I disagree with. Create within my heart the willingness to reach higher, go farther, and dig deeper as I seek to love my neighbor, redeem my adversary, and forgive friend and foe. Through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior I pray. Amen.
Written by Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III
Photo by Rev. Dr. Georgia Hill
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