I want to stand guilty before everyone and everything…I have sinned against everyone, they will all forgive me now, and then we will have heaven on earth. Am I not in heaven now?” –Fyodor Dostoevsky The Brothers Karamazov Part II, Book VI, ch. 2.
I’m at a loss for words, I have tried to wirte this post several times and imply feel uninspired, so i’ll let the quote speak for itself. Sometimes the greatest things in life are the things we let speak for themselves.
“In the end, God is faithful, and new creation happens at even the smallest, most personal levels.”- J, (one of the wisest men I know).
Eli: so, i was up for ordination in two weeks. I decided to postpone.
J: Why did you postpone?
Eli: I don’t want to be ordained yet. I mean, if that’s where God places me for a longer time I’ll reconsider but at this point, i feel too young, too stupid. You know?
J: I wish more people were this reflective about ordination. Some just do it for a personal credential. My ordination in the UMC was one of the most profound, meaningful moments of my life, but it providentially came at a moment i first thought was too late in coming, but since realized was the right time. you have time, and if it’s right, it will become apparent to you.
Eli: Yeah, I mean i’m taking a kenotic approach, and saying to God “empty me for your people, wherever they are” if that means i teach baptists for life, so be it. I’ve decided my personal comfort isn’t worth it, neither is a credentialed paper. A career is earned in blood and tears, not paper and smiles
J: So true. it’s hard to convince some of this because we’ve become such a credential conscious church culture.
Eli: I thought i’d make a great priest, but then i realized i feel like alyosha in the Brothers K, and have to just be a monk in the world, thus, here i am.
J: You find the paper is meaningless if you can’t find the grace to comfort the afflicted. So much more is dependent on the spiritual disciplines than the classroom.
7:49pmEli: Amen. I’ve had to learn a lot of pastoral care and revisit my far more personalistic roots in being a pastor. That’s the thing, you actually have to talk to people and care about them to do it right, it’s a job, but also so much more. No one really wants to know about the trinity, they want to know how to be forgiven, how to settle conflict and occasionally, how to understand a doctrine
J: Study isn’t evil. it may be the most tempting of the disciplines because knowledge is so powerful, but i have met some truly wonderful scholars who are true saints of God, and those are some of the best people out there, what I aspire to be.
This man J, is an inspiration he’s someone I look up to often and he’s a great man. The reason I posted this conversation is because as I contemplated today, in and with the arts and my pilgrimage, i turned to Dostoyevsky after a long day of raising money with my children so that we could go to a trip we’re planning for next month. I’ve been having the quoted passage ring in my ears for hours at a time.
This is a conversation we had today, and I loved it so much I thought I’d share it, just to share a little about me, and also to share some good notes on ordination, and just basic Christian life and leadership.
I keep thinking, “I want to stand guilty before the whole world, condemned the least among you all, and then we shall have heaven on earth.” I keep thinking that if I could accept the fact of wretched guilt, if I could accept the hell that is facing my own sins, then I could finally see the heaven of grace that is precisely at the hart of conviction, judgment and condemnation. We know that there is no final condemnation, but the feeling of guilt is holy.
Life may bring us many hurts and pains but as Christians we know that is is in these hurts and paints as well as anything else that we may find happiness, and more importantly, the joy of faithfulness. Being human is not about being happy, it is about being faithful, being a manifestation of Life over against the forces of death. It is not about me, it is about my ability to answer for you, and everything else. The ministry of reconciliation is none other than my ability to rest easy in the fact that I too might answer for you.
I keep thinking, “We are all answerable for everyone and everything, I am my brother’s keeper.” I want to stand guilty and ashamed before you all, naked, broken and poor, i want to stand guilty and beg you to forgive me, and in that we shall have heaven on earth.
I want to be broken, and stand before you all, bearing everything, answering for everything, and in so doing, sharing in the sufferings of Christ. I want to weep at the beauty of it all and laugh at our lack of understanding. I want to smile in the moments of deepest regret, and weep when things are set right. I want to feel the entire universe in a single breath, and the heart of God in the tears of another.
We are all responsible for everyone and everything, and only in moving towards bearing one another’s burdens will we ever see the kingdom.