Jagged Edges

Nov 19, 2017

by Eric Sponheim, former board member

In a community of faith, as in any other human endeavor, setting the expectations right is crucial.

In a faith community, we can play deeply meaningful roles in reminding each other of who we really are: precious children of God. The challenge and support one receives in such a setting takes all sorts of forms.

Mary offered a vivid example in her post earlier this month. Weighed down by grief over the loss of our dear friend Julie, Mary found herself unable to join in the singing at Sunday worship. Yet others in Mary’s congregation, St. Mark’s in Sioux Falls, sang the hymns when Mary could not –reminding her of the presence of God in the midst of them.

If you expect a church to be perfect, however, just because it is the church, you are setting yourself up for profound disappointment. After all, there are no perfect churches, just as there are no perfect families or any other perfect human community of any kind. It could not be otherwise, when each individual in the community is a sinner as well as a saint.

Pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber lays it on the line in this regard. In her notable memoir, Pastrix, Bolz-Weber writes about the welcome brunches at her congregation, All Sinners and Saints in Denver.

“I’m glad you like it here,” she tells people. But she quickly adds that “at some point, I will disappoint you or the church will let you down.”

Acknowledging this shouldn’t be a deal-breaker for someone thinking of joining (or remaining in) a congregation, either in prison or on the outside.  After all, as Bolz-Weber puts it, "[t]he jagged edges of our humanity are what actually connect us to God."

Those edges are scary because they mean we're all vulnerable to being hurt. Recognizing them, however, is a form of holy candor needed to set the expectations right and allow the Spirit to knit the body of Christ together in faith and truth.



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