Starting the New Year Off Right (Sorry / Sumatanga)

I'm sorry. For lots of reasons actually. We are taught from a very young age we should never be sorry. We should never admit mistakes. We should never claim fault or else we give a foothold from which to destroy our self-worth.

Well, self-worth must find itself wallowing in conviction today. Because...

I'm sorry.

I'm sorry as a Pastor in the United Methodist Church that our church struggles with fully realizing the love of Jesus Christ. Surely there is room in our church for those who feel confident and those who are unsure. Surely there is room for those who vote differently than I do. Surely there is room for outright sinners and those who are working towards perfection. Surely there is room for the unlovable and the celebrated. Surely there is room for the closed-minded and the open-minded. Surely there is room for the journey of faith and wherever you find yourself on that walk. After all, it isn't where you are on the walk it is who is calling you, yes?

Surely there is room for everyone who calls on the name of Jesus Christ. And if we aren't in that place yet - where Jesus frees us from our petty notions of who is "in" and who is "out" then I haven't done my job yet as a pastor. I'm going to keep trying.

I'm sorry as a friend who knows I don't do enough as a friend to witness to the love of Jesus Christ to everyone I know. I have friends who I should probably challenge more... who have given me permission to be vulnerable and honest both ways and yet I hesitate. I have friends who need to be comforted - who in sorrow doubt themselves and God and need hope, faith, and love shared with them. And yet I hesitate because it is easier to stay in my safe and secure assurance. I'm going to keep trying.

I'm sorry (and this is kind of the reason for this post) as a Trustee at Camp Sumatanga that there are those who have recently felt excluded from the work of God's Kingdom on such hallow ground as Camp Sumatanga. For this I am saddened. One thing that makes the body of Christ beautiful is our differences. The thing that makes us the Body of Christ is the very body and blood of Christ that we remember - not a litmus test of belief systems or the "correct" agenda. Because I am saddened that some feel... offended, I'm going to bear fruits worthy of the repentance I am proclaiming.

Fruits? Yes please. But there is a difference in looking at the results of someone's life (measured by the way in the impact for Christ on others) and categorizing someone empirically.

Litmus tests? No thanks. I'm sorry when that is the quick and easy and shortcuts real relationship.

We don't always get it right. And when I fail to show the perfect love of Jesus Christ, remember two things:

- God's perfect and wonderful love is never found in one person or place (short of Jesus Christ himself). Thankfully, where one person or "entity" fails another speaks/acts in ways the other couldn't. The rocks will cry out if Abraham's children do not. You can't stop God's love or God's creation from proclaiming it.

- I'm going to keep working on it. I might not have it right, but as of today I am thirty years young.

I'm young enough to be naive and think that Jesus really can bring people together - that love really is stronger than agendas, fear, hate, or despair. I want to be part of God's creation getting it right. I want to err on the side of grace.

I'm also old enough to know this won't happen without a bunch of prayer and some conviction that I need direction. So I'll keep trying. I'll keep looking for and trying to live out the faith, hope, and love of Jesus in my life.

Want to work on it with me? Say this simple prayer with me:

For all that has been, thanks.
To all that shall be, yes.