Tuesday, August 20, 2013

As We Actually Are

"He had always managed, somehow, to follow a canonized saint when he was called to a parish, someone who had worn a halo and been surrounded by seraphim, even when walking to the corner for a newspaper.
   In his first parish, it had taken a full year to be forgiven his green innocence in the wake of a priest who, mellowed by age, was wise and all-knowing, not to mention full of truth and light.
   Though he was again and again the leading choice among the candidates, the frost inevitably came as his congregations sized him up.
   One parish had chosen him because he was unmarried but later wished he were married with children.
   Another liked him because he was unaffected but decided he needed more charisma.
   One search committee thought that being slightly under five feet nine inches in his sock feet was a characteristic that lent spiritual humility but changed their minds and wished he were taller."

My husband recently accepted a request to pastor a church far from where we live. I read this in one of the Mitford books last night, and it made me laugh. If you could build the perfect pastor, complete with every quality you ever liked in a human being, I am sure the result would not be whatever you actually got in a pastor. I mean, really: we don't even get to choose every quality we want in our spouse. My list would be so long, that no living man could fulfill it. It would include many things that would disqualify the father of my children. And I also would not meet every item on his list. We don't get to cherry-pick our children's beings, our spouse's, our sibling's, or our fellow church member's. And yet:

The Scripture tells us to love one another with a fervent love,
to forgive one another,
to bear with one another.
None of those things have to be instructed
when we are complete in perfection.
We don't have to forgive those who are never offensive.
We don't have to bear with those who don't annoy.
And no one has to tell us to love those who are lovable beyond all measure.
One of the things I appreciate so much about God's Word
is that it acknowledges us as we actually are -- not just what we should be.

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