Great! Six more months of having to explain this blog! Thanks, Laurie, thanks. I kid, sort of. After reading what Laurie wrote, I realized that I wanted to expand a little more on the idea. I wanted to ask and answer why does something break your heart because that is at the core of this idea, and it is at the core of the church.
Only something or someone you love can break your heart. Only something or someone you love can truly disappoint you. Sure, we get frustrated that the pizza man is late because it is an inconvenience or annoying even, but we are not really brokenhearted about it.
I think that the church breaks hearts because we love it. I love it. I love the church.
What? How can it be that I can feel hurt and anger at the church and also love and intense joy and pride? How is this possible? Well, I ask: have you ever been in love?
I love the church, the true church. The true church is that community rooted in love, guided by love, and surrounded by love. We witness it every day in the work of feeding the hungry, visiting the lonely, and welcoming the stranger. We witness it when we pray for and with each other, supporting each other so that we can face another day. We witness it when a person is inspired to do something for his or her community to share his or her love.
I witnessed it writ large after Katrina in New Orleans. Episcopal Relief and Development, hundreds of Episcopal Churches, the Salvation Army, and many other faith communities were the unsung heroes. They came week by week, month by month, and even year by year, offering their time, talent, and treasure to love their neighbors. Why did they do it? These people do this because of the true church, the community of love.
At the same time, we argue and struggle with each other in the church. Sometimes even, people make pronouncements “officially” from the church. Then we argue and fight more. Some walk away. Some grapple for what they think is power in the church. They think that if they just had a little more power, they would be okay, but that is the problem. The church is not about power. It is about love.
We can get caught up with politics and policy and personalities. Why? We get caught up because it is our human nature. The church struggles because we struggle. We want to organize, prioritize, categorize. We want to control our lives, the world around us because we think that maybe if everyone just did what we wanted we would be happy. So, we make our institutions and build our walls and then we start hurting each other.
Perhaps we should just chuck the whole kit and caboodle. Perhaps the church is just another exercise in egotism and control. For that matter, humans are pretty mean to each other. Maybe we should just move as far away from each other as possible too. I will do my thing and you can do your thing. Humph!
It is always right at this moment that we remember. It is at this moment, in our humility, that God works through us in this church. When we recognize that we are just humans, and all God really asks us to do is love, God can and God does use the institutional church. Frustrating and beautiful.
I love this church, and this church has broken my heart. I have been so disappointed when I have felt that the church dropped the ball on love in favor of power. I have been so disappointed when I have been hurt and needed that healing love of God that I sometimes did not feel that I could find it, but I also have some responsibility to this church as well.
I have hurt others, been neglectful of God’s call to love. I have wanted my own power. I have wanted prestige and popularity like a crazed beauty pageant contestant. I have pretended that I am somehow perfect, and have it all together, and looked down my nose at others because they were not in “my church.”
For better and for worse, I am part of this church. I have participated in breaking many hearts. It is only in my humility that I can also work to heal those hearts. It is my work as well to love in the Name of God. Sometimes, I will get it right, and often I will get it wrong, but if we can keep love as our core, we can do better.
The church can and does do better. When we love, when we remember that love for us, we get it right. When we share that love, we get it right. We witness those beautiful loving moments in the work of the saints. We witness those beautiful loving moments when we can accept and console others, and offer them our love. So, for better and for worse, here I am a priest of the church. I am here to help the church remember that call and heal those broken hearts.
Much love and sometimes stupidity,