Thursday, February 18, 2010


In my work as a pastor, I am privileged to hear the stories of men and women, of their lives, of their brokenness, of their achievements, of their questions, of their heart. Each story I hear is a gift. It is a humble moment to be trusted with a story.

As I scroll through the myriad of stories in my mind, I get a perplexing mosaic of humanity. We - humanity - are a complex part of creation. So much capability, so much goodness, so much beauty, so much innocence, so much delight. And yet... the terror, the fear, the bewilderment, the abandonment, the disillusionment.

I've had my share of heartache, my quiet despair, of rage. But I've also not been through the hell that marks the journey of too many of the people I have met. My life has been full of blessings and gifts. It's been a good life. I still find stuff to complain about, to fret about, to obsess over, to underappreciate. So what can I do with my life, in light of all the people I have met who have had many more hardships, much more severe sadness, so many more tears?

If people had the strength to change, they would. But they don't. At least not on their own. They are too tired, or to weak, or worn out. It's like there is a need for someone who has been given much good to reach out and share it. This is what Bill Fisher did for me. And Dan Boen. And Tom Ayers. And Don Gentry. And my Dad and Mom. And Tara. And Joanna.

Where is God in all of this? The world can have the feel of swirling madness. Here's the instruction that God gives to those who seek a way of renewal and reconciliation in our fracturing and frustrating existence. This is some of what God has to say to those who want to make a better world:
We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak
and not to please ourselves.

We should all please our neighbors for their good,
to build them up.

For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written:
"The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me."
For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us,
so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures
and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement
give you the same attitude of mind toward each other
that Christ Jesus had,
so that with one mind and one voice
you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you,
in order to bring praise to God.

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