Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Well is Dry

If I'm honest with myself--and with all of you--sometimes, I just don't have it.

Sometimes, I don't have the energy to do my ministry.

Sometimes, I don't have the strength to pick myself up.

Sometimes, I don't have the faith that God will indeed make all things right.

And so sometimes, I just want to crawl back into bed and pull the covers up until I am less battered by the world and everything that is broken with it.

Most of the time--the vast majority of the time, even--I love what I do.  I am paid to study the same Bible stories that fascinated me as a child and to teach them to a loving audience every week.  I still can't believe how good I have it.

But when I look at the world outside of my loving congregation, the congregation I continue to serve out of my own admiration for joy in what I do sometimes dries up faster than a Samaritan woman's well.

First, I read about a fellow pastor who wants gays and lesbians to be rounded up, fenced off, and allowed to die through attrition.

Next came reading about another fellow pastor who suggests that the government should simply get in the business of killing gays and lesbians.

After that came reading about a church in which a little child was given a standing ovation by all of the adults in the audience for singing a song whose refrain was, "ain't no homos gonna make it to heaven." (Watch the video, notice the kid's age and bearing on the stage, and it's clear that he was coached by an adult or adults.)

Then, there was the story of how Cardinal Timothy Dolan, arguably the most prominent American Catholic leader today, authorized payoffs of $20,000 and annual pensions of $15,000 to pedophile priests who would agree to voluntarily leave the priesthood.

And I just want to retort at these stories, "Stuff like this is why we can't have nice things."

Now, I can take a certain amount of bad press for Christianity in any given day.  I might even have made myself numb to it to a certain extent, if only as a defense mechanism so that I can continue to do my work without getting so affected by everything that is happening that I lose my faith.

But this time...when it rains, it pours.

I'm not asking for a pity party here, I'm really not.

But I do want to use this post to disprove the notion that we pastors have an infinite well of faith that we can draw from.

We don't.

And my personal reserves have run dry at the moment.

I'm trying very hard not to replace those empty reserves with anger.  I've been praying constantly to avoid falling into the trap of letting my temper rule me, and of violating Jesus's commands about not judging others.

I know that it would be very easy and very cathartic for me to respond to these stories with the wrath of God's own thunder.

Because even though I do not think that any of these instances should be taken as at all representative of the entire Christian tradition in all of its splendor and diversity, I also know that there are other churches out there like the one of that singing child, churches that are teaching their children nothing but to condemn people who aren't like them.

I want to know how I can work at changing their hearts and minds (and they, no doubt, likely feel the same about me).  I want to know how I can preach justice without dividing the voice of Christianity.

And I want to be able to do my ministry without feeling like I have to turn my blog into a single-issue blog that is devoted to using my moral authority to do damage control every time another pastor says or does something that turns away the many people who are justifiably skeptical of the church today, people who I want to bring the message of the incredible love and good news of Jesus Christ to. I said--I'm really not asking for your pity here.

Only your prayers.

Thanks, y'all.

Yours in Christ,

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