Misunderstood Love — Leaders in the Church

Since I was a kid, I have seen God as a picture in a comic book. What we now call “pixels”, I just called “dots”, but it is still my understanding of God. Ok, not God exactly, but our picture of God. The church, the earth’s people, gathered in community together each know a bit of God. Each of those people is one dot in our picture of God. The more people, the more dots, the clearer the picture that we can get of who God is, and maybe where God is taking us. Each of those dots are different. There are green ones, there are red ones, there are strong black ones that form an outline somehow. There are white ones that open up space, and so on, in our picture of God.

This afternoon, my wife and I had the opportunity to attend the Authorized Ministers Lunch and Gathering for the states — Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. Most of the people there were clergy, but there some former parishioners in the audience as well. There were colleagues and friends that I had known for years, and a few surprises. Two people that I know were celebrating their 25th anniversary of ordination. More about them later, but for now, here was my conflict: the people in parishes and people outside of parishes I know think the people in that meeting are somehow mean to them — making them do this or that. The people in the Luncheon, combined, don’t have a mean bone in their bodies . Not a one of them wants to hurt the world in any way. They are all different, but honestly, the one thing they have in common is kindness to the world and the people in it. 

Let me give you examples:

In a room full of 300 people or so, I knew a bunch of them.

At my table: 

Susie Townsley ,  gracious, organized, lived in Japan for years.

John Hudson, worker, loves to work with camps and campers to transform the world.

Scott Morrow, a businessman of a pastor, composed, determined and kind.

MIchelle Madsen-Bibeau, perhaps the most administrative person I know, lots of stamina, loves visiting with people.

Around the room: 

Jane Rowe, my local pastor, warm and kind as a mother figure, an educator

Matt McCaffrey, humorous, musical, pastoral, and sneakily administrative.

Tamara Moreland, pastoral, kind, working grit, and a church mother.

Michael Ciba, quiet, a bit nerdy, a family man.

Evelyn Eddy, compassionate, kind, wise in her bones through experience no one would want. Also literate and magical.

Paul Bryant-Smith, quiet, musical, a chaplain

Lucille Fritz, funny, kind, loveable, joyous.

Janet Stoddard, kind, warm, a chaplain who simply cares for a living.

Barbara Libby, a smiling, grace-filled gardener.

George Harris, gregarious and kind, a nicer guy you’re not likely to meet.

Kent Siladi, a teddy bear in a business suit.

Sioux Wilusz, intense, but soft spoken

Wendy VanderHart, intense, styling, and serious, fun in her own way.

AND EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM BELIEVES IN A JUST WORLD
But congregants and outsiders think… 

They’re radical!

They’re judgemental!

They’re pushing the gay agenda! 

They’re not patriotic! 

They may not even be Christian!

They don’t believe in Right-And-Wrong, they believe in feelings!

They are taking us places we don’t want to go!

They hate America! 

But mostly, “They’re making us change and do stuff we don’t want to do”, and some version of “They like weirdos better than us traditional “normal” people”. 

If there was one thing I want people to know, it’s this: Nothing they do comes from hate. It comes from love. It comes from a unique call to follow a God as best they can. Yes, some of them like (or prefer, or work with) “weirdos”, but that’s because “normal” folks don’t, and they are convinced that God wants us to include their dots to our picture of God. 

If you’re afraid of liberals, or angry at liberals, or feel judged by ministers, remember this: Kind and loving people can’t take you anywhere bad. People who love the world and want to make it better are not trying to hurt you. God, at least as drawn by these “dots”, wants you to see how wonderful the world can be for everybody. They want to take you places you want to go.

Further, if you think they’re different than you, or you’re different from them, they are all different from each other!  The one thing they have in common is love that comes from God.  How can that be bad thing? It can’t. 
Resisting with Peace ,

John

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