Tuesday, March 1, 2011

righteousness or grace...

It's not a matter of rights
it's a matter of righteousness...
the email proclaimed.

This is a vote on whether we will continue
to maintain a Biblical standard of righteousness
for the qualifications for leadership
in our denomination...
the email proclaimed.

I'm not so sure righteousness
was the basis of my baptism,
but rather grace.
Unconditional Grace.

God loved me

before I understood
before I could verbalize faith
before I could know
the difference between wrong
and right.

I'm not so sure righteousness
was the basis of my confirmation,
but rather grace.
Unconditional Grace.

God loved me as a fifth grader
as I sat with three others
on the other side of the pastor's desk
for six Sunday's in a row
trying to comprehend the stuff of
Presbyterian polity and theology.
I'm not so sure I comprehended much...
I'm not so sure I was any more
of value to the church or God
after those six classes.

What I am sure of
is the last thing

spoken to our little group before
standing in front of the congregation...
"Just say yes, when we ask you the question."

So I said yes.
Was it because I was righteous?
I don't think so.
I simply wanted to please my pastor and my parents.
I've learned that it is because of grace...
unconditional grace
through the years
that I better understand my
baptism and confirmation.

I am reminded again and again:
God loved me long before
I could do anything
worthy or righteous.

I'm not so sure righteousness
was the basis for my call into ministry
or my ordination to serve as a
Minister of the Word and Sacrament.

I was more like Moses
when I began to discern my calling.
You might remember Moses murdered a man.
You might remember Moses
doubted and argued with God,
"I can't do what you want!"
I didn't murder anyone
but I did worry and argue and bargain with God.
And yet...

God called Moses.
God called me.

I was more like the young rich ruler...
I was young
from a middle class family
rather than rich
but not so willing to
give up stuff
give up comforts
I clung on to things
and still
God called me.

I was more like the
man hanging on the cross
next to Jesus.
Though I had not
and have not
committed a
felony or a misdemeanor
and have only had
traffic tickets...
I only asked to be remembered.
Remember me, Lord
because I certainly
am not
worthy enough
faithful enough
"righteous" enough
to deserve

I am a good minister
not because I am "righteous"
but because I am "broken"
and understand others
who are broken
and rely on Christ
to meet me in my brokenness
and trust Christ
to heal me and make me whole.

It's not righteousness
that heals me
calls me.

It's grace.

God's grace
does what I cannot do.
God's grace
makes what is broken

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