Wednesday, February 13, 2008


So what? You want to know. So what? You have run into a few pastors who aren’t exactly perfect. Who aren’t exactly Christlike.

Who aren’t exactly 21st century Augustines. Who aren’t the sharpest tacks in the box. Who make up their own particular theology.

Who are alcoholics. Who can’t keep their wicks dry. Who haven’t met a Hostess Twinkie they didn’t love. Who are ambitious. Who don’t believe in the resurrection.

Who can’t help loving the sound of their own voices. Who can’t help being enthralled by their own story and example. Their own precious lives.

Who are more interested in publishing than pastoring. Or more interested in fishing than pastoring. Or more interested in playing video games than pastoring. Or more interested in cracking jokes than pastoring.

Who are post-literate: Who don’t read because they don’t like to read. They’d rather watch TV. Who confuse politics with theology. Who are more interested in political power than spiritual power.

Who have great hatred for sins that don’t happen to be theirs. Who are greedy. Who are cruel. Who won’t listen. Who are lazy. Who are control freaks. Who always need to be right.

Name your poison. Name your frailty. Name that tune.

So what? So join the human race. Join the hundreds of millions of us. This is normal. This is what it means to be Christian. This is what it means to be followers of Christ. To be under the authority of people like this. To be led by people like this. People like us. More or less.

Is it reasonable to expect anything more? I don’t think so. Not really. You’d like someone who had got rid of most of the sins. The seven deadly sins, for example. Egregious expressions of all these sins. Most of the obvious intellectual and emotional deficiencies.

You’d like someone who had some of the basic competencies and interests. Someone who pays attention to what’s going on in the world. In the world of ideas and science and philosophy and economics and theology and literature and music and theater and yes. Politics as well.

Someone who is reasonably well read. Someone who can carry on a reasonably competent conversation on any number of subjects. But in my experience, this is not likely. Hasn’t usually happened. So it doesn’t seem reasonable.

What’s called for here is a little refocusing. Instead of the pastor. Instead of taking him more seriously than he can stand. More seriously than is healthy for him or us. Let’s diminish him. Or not diminish. Let’s begin with greatly diminished expectations. Let’s not expect the pastor to be a stand-in for Jesus.

He isn’t. He can’t be. He’s just human. He isn’t divine. Or he’s only divine in the sense that regular sinful marginally competent humans are divine. Humans like us are divine. Which is to misuse the word. So let’s call a spade a shovel and a pastor just another human being who’s looking for Jesus. Just like us.

Let’s not depend on him or her so much. Let’s not expect so much of another merely human being. And let’s figure out how to focus our attention on Jesus. On Jesus again. On God. Let’s refocus our divine expectations on the divine One. Instead.

And then let’s take everything our pastors and clergy and priests do and say with a grain of salt. As long as there are no egregious issues. Major sin issues. Blasphemies. That sort of thing. As long as they’re minor. Let’s just put up with whatever they feel they have to say on a Sunday. Whatever they have to do for kicks during the week.

This is part of the price of worship. Just look at it as something you have to sit through to stay connected to the other Jesus freaks you know. To worship corporately with the other Jesus freaks you know. To join corporately in the worship of the divine.

Whatever he says. Whatever she says. Just nod your head. Yes. Yes. That is quite wonderful, what you said right there. That’s so profound. That’s enormously illuminating. Thank you. Thank you. Nice sermon, Pastor. Nice turn of phrase there when you talked about the difficult road of life. The bumpy road of life. What an original and insightful way you have of putting it.

Or just ignore him. Or ignore her. Just think about someone or something else. Just pray for example. Just thank God for what you have. For the generosity he has shown you. Thank God that you can worship him publicly without jeopardy and can sit in a relatively clean and reasonably temperature controlled and well-lit place where there are also people are who are looking for him. Somewhat faithful people.

Because in such a place. Under such circumstances. Anything. Any God-breathed thing. Might happen.

And this is what being mystic believer priests is all about. This excited expectation. This grateful waiting. This wanting more than anything for God to show up and be with us. For God to let us know he is with us. And to guide us where he wants us. Which is everywhere he goes.

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