As You Watch…

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the world darken and twist. As you see the confusion and the breakdown. As you witness the walking dead around you and your heart breaks for what is happening.

Do something. Just that. Do something. it doesn’t have to be a big thing, every little bit counts, but it has something you do to make a difference. Roll up your sleeves, put your faith into action, and seek out whatever you see as wrong and broken and challenged and do something to make it better.

The world and the church are full of passive whiners and complainers, people who have a list of things to gripe about but not a single finger to lift to make things better. Enough of that. From now on anyone who complains about the way things are and does nothing to make it better is part of the problem and needs to be ignored by the people who are actually making a difference. What they say matters nothing until they have shown they are willing to take personal responsibility for making something better.

For followers of Christ this is especially important. We are not called to hide away from the world no matter how terrible that world is. We are called to be salt and light and God’s hands in a place that has made ill by human sin. We are called to proclaim the reality of our faith in word and deed and there are no exceptions, even for difficult days.

Make a decision. Are you in or you? There’s a lot at stake hear not the least of which may be your own soul.

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I am learning…

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there is no perfect place, no perfect job, no perfect church, no perfect life. In everything and everywhere there will be moments of joy and moments of challenge and nothing will ever be just the way you imagined it would be no matter how hard you try.

There’s a kind of disappointment in this. Surely one thing in this existence could be at least close to what you imagine it’s supposed to be. Yet, while some things may come achingly close, nothing will ever be “it”. In fact the closer they come the greater the disappointment when the flaw that mars comes to the surface. Just when you thought you won the prize, the reality of life does something to pull it from your fingers.  It’s, perhaps, one of the most maddening things about being human.

There’s also a freedom, though, in this realization. Accepting there is no perfect anything on this Earth and in this life gives the gift of wisdom, of patience, and a release from the tyranny of perfection into the cool waters of grace. One can be set free to enjoy that which is beautiful and release that which is less so when you realize that a normal life will have parts of both. The good can also become more precious and the harsh can be more temporary when you realize all things pass and see life through this window.

And then there is heaven which seems, as I grow older, to be less like any image I have of it and more like an existence where I can simply “be” as I was meant to be because the presence of God will fulfill all my expectations and heal the imperfections and unrealities of my life. One of the great gifts of getting older is that having seen so much of the world over the years one realizes the quiet ache in your heart on even the best of days is a sign there is more and better and it’s closer than you think. Stepping through that door you realize you’re more at home there than any place your travels in this world may have taken you. Every beauty here is a sign of a greater one to come and every challenge is a reminder of a larger day when all such things will pass.

The Best and Most Challenging…

Open hands beggingquestion any parish can ask is actually rather simple, “Are we doing what Jesus wants us to be doing?”

Now that question should actually be obvious. Surely if we claim to be followers of Christ we should be doing our best to do the actual things that Christ commands. They’re not hard to find, a simple reading of the New Testament will reveal any number of places where Jesus directly tells us what to do and in very basic and simple terms. He also tells us that there will be accountability for our doing, or not doing, the same.

So why not do just that? Why not, for example, when we have parish council meetings start out with a simple question “Are we doing and being what Jesus asks?” and with that as the standard then proceed to seek God’s face for the wisdom and guidance to make what Jesus tells us real in everything we do. Although the implications for many parishes could be profound, the actual process is quite dimple and direct.

Now some would say “But we have all these things we need like keeping the lights on and such…” and all of that is true but what did Jesus say? Jesus said that God knows we have these practical needs and he urges us to seek FIRST the Kingdom of God in the assurance that all the other things we need will be given to us. The truth is we often have things backwards. We seek the things that Jesus says God already knows we need and ignore the things that Jesus tells us will make us the sons and daughters of God.

In the end we’re the ones who lose. Our parish life becomes an endless series of meetings and projects about keeping the building open rather than the Spirit filled adventure of impacting the world and transforming ourselves into what God would have us be. Hands and hearts that God could use for doing great things grow idle or occupied with the trivial and fall into a kind of spiritual listlessness. Faith turns into formalities.

There’s better. There’s more. The question, I suppose, is to what extent we let Jesus be Lord in his own church.