Gravitas another time...

"Until we discover that Christ was not outside the collected wounds of the family that raised us," writes M. Craig Barnes, "we'll never have anything to say about the wounds of the family of faith. If nothing else, the pastor raised in a dysfunctional home has the blessing of not being surprised by the crazy and self-destructive activity of the church."  Man, ain't that the truth?

The key here, however, rests  in the healing and maturing balm of grace - wounds must be healed and forgiven - because "while a scarred soul is attractive (by gravitas), gaping wounds are not. No congregation finds a bleeding preacher very poetic."  And sadly, there are a lot of bleeding preachers and unredeemed poets out there, yes? 

To be sure, they are in our churches, too but it would seem that God "has a preference for working with families that are all messed up" if the biblical narrative is to be trusted.  Just think of the people in our key stories:  Abraham - a mystical old man who wanders away from home late in life because of a vision, casts his first son off into the desert because of his wife's jealousy and almost murders his next child because of voices he keeps hearing in his head. Or Moses - a murderer - who spends a generation wandering the mountains in despair before heading back into the action as history's first labor organizer.  It might be Mary Magdalene or Saul or Tarsus or half a dozen other misfits from both the Hebrew or Christian testaments.  God, indeed, seems to have a special love for using wacked-out and wounded people.

Or as I have come to realize at this stage in ministry:  ordinary, everyday people.  There is great hope in the Lord's willingness and commitment to bringing redemption through people like us.  And THAT is one of the things a pastor from a hurting family can share with her/his congregation.  "There is a use for everything and the reflective pastor know this better than anyone else.  God does not start being redemptive just on the day the pastor is ordained.  All of the failures, hurts and losses that occurred even in childhood are embraced by the calling into ministry... (so that we can share with others) that even when we thought we were abandoned in our hurts, (we found out later) that the crucified Christ was there, bearing the pain with us. We are not alone." (Barnes, p. 30)

Gravitas has to do we discovering the wisdom of our wounds born of our everyday lives...



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