Thursday, July 20, 2006

Humbled by grace

This morning in the midst of some prayer and study time an old patriarch (Mr. B) of the congregation came for a visit to talk about some outreach possibilities to consider. After that exchange, he inquired about kks. He was one of the first people outside of close family and friends to find out about kks and her developmental struggles. Mr. B only found out because the Sunday after we learned about the magnitude of her struggles, I was trying to keep it together enough to preach a sermon. I also knew that Mr. B prayed, and that if I told him what was on my mind and heart that he would truly pray for kks. Nearly two months have passed since I told Mr. B about the situation, while I struggled to fight back tears. Today I told him about current strides and frustrations, and he reminded me to be patient.

Good reminder for me.

I also told Mr. B about anxiety and hope related to our upcoming evaluations at the University of Minnesota. He asked about the evaluations and the specific dates. He wanted the dates so that he could pray specifically about and on those dates.

Specific dates????????

My episodic indignation with congregational life establishes the building blocks for me to be a cranky old man. (One good thing about that indignation, I will at least be less likely to talk about "the good old days." In my mind, they don't exist.) However, there are times when I am so moved by the grace of God that congregational indignation falls into the background of my thoughts. Currently I live my life as a pastor, one called to hold up the community of faith in prayer, and I could not live the prayer life of Mr. B. I do at times, but I am not wired like this man. This humbled by grace event does not surprise me. I believe in the ability of the people of God and the Holy Spirit to move the church far more than I believe in the clergy. If anything, I/we hold back the Church. Mr. B provided another example of what is possible in God. Today, if but only for a moment, I am healed. I thanked Mr. B, and we wished each other well.

Another God moment came after I sat down to pick up where I left off with my reading. I was in the middle of Philippians chapter 4, no ordinary reading in my faith life. The first pastor I ever really knew used to close every sermon with Philippians 4:7. My faith in the power of God as a child centered on that passage. It connected my life experience to a faith passed passed on from generation to generation, over thousands of years. Few passages in the Bible offer me comfort, but this one does, and sometimes I take this word for granted. Not today.

Here is the section of Philippians I was reading when Mr. B came in:

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near.
Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

I spoke of my worries and hopes today, and someone who offered to pray for me and my family guarded my heart and mind in Christ Jesus. Neither my indignation, nor my anxiety will rule the day, nor will they consume me. The peace of God which surpasses all understanding serendipitously came through my door, and I had enough of God's wisdom today to recognize it.

May God's peace come through your door today as well.


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