Sunday, September 28, 2008

The zeal of your house consumes me PS 69:10

I think I know how David felt. What a consuming week it was in our house of the Lord.

It began on a sunny Homecoming Sunday with happy kids seated round the altar and running through the fields. It ended on a soaking Saturday with a grief-stricken family gathered round the same altar, courageously supporting each other, prayerfully saying goodbye to a beloved father, grandfather and husband.

And in between these emotional poles, the roller-coaster of pastoral ministry and the routine of parish administration: Birthday celebrations. Sick-room vigils. Affirming fellowship. Crisis counseling. All set on a background of: Budgets. Maintenance schedules. Ministry meetings. Event planning. Vestry oversight.

Looking back over this or any week, I thank God he has not commanded us to be successful at all we set our hands to. Rather we are simply but emphatically commanded to love – our God with all our hearts and our neighbor as ourselves, and not just when it is convenient or reciprocated.

In a week when my prayer muscles have taken a pounding, it is good to get a quiet moment for: Wow, God! Thank you for the grace you rain down on St. Peter’s. Thank you for the gift of each other – to renew, to rejoice, to welcome – to be Church.

Thank you for showing me again that Christian love is not a fragile poetic abstraction that can be shattered by the slightest suggestion of conflict or correction. Through Paul you gave us this most practical advice: Love is patient…kind…not jealous…not pompous…not rude…It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.

Our Episcopal tradition is particularly well suited to embrace this hardy love. We have learned over long years that we have the most to fear from stifling inquiry in order to create a false impression of unanimity. It is characteristic of many dysfunctional families that their members are unable to bring differences to the surface and deal with them. Many noisy, quarrelsome households are actually a lot healthier and a lot more loving.

But as we seek God’s hand in working out differences and directions, we know it will always be found in love. While I’ll never be able to fully understand, much less apply, E=MC2, the formula WWJD is clear, sustaining and actionable 24/7.

Sincerely yours in Christ’s love,

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