I must admit to some professional jealously. Recently I have had reasons to visit some of our local mega churches. As a good ELCIC Lutheran I have been trained to despise these places. To be honest while I was there, I was actually quite impressed. Most of the people I met were sincere Christians, the music, the worship, the preaching all were good. Actually more then good, they were spectacular. I wondered if we could become so spectacular? Jealously welled up in me. Which is a good warning that I was on the wrong track.
An important correction came in the form of a book that was lent to be as I have been traveling though the desert. It is one of the finest and most beautiful books I have ever read. It is called The Wisdom of the Poverello. It is about Saint Francis as he walked though his own desert. In it I found the wisdom that I had forgotten. That it is not in our spectacular worship, or buildings or programs that God is most clearly proclaimed. Rather it is in our poverty. It is when we have allowed our selves to be become empty, and filled only by our desire for God and by God’s own self.
As the Poverello says “sanctity is not developing oneself to the utmost, nor is it an achievement of one’s own doing. It is at first a void which one discovers in oneself and accepts and which God then comes to fill in proportion to how much one makes one’self receptive to God’s bounty.” Then the evangelical moment comes, when from our poverty, our emptiness and simplicity God shines though us.
May we again become a simple and poor church so that the light of God might shine through us.
This is why I still believe that the best ministry is done over a cup of tea or coffee.
Or perhaps some bread, a cup of wine and a word between friends.
Thanks for the thoughts Ryan. One of the most important reminders, for me, of our poverty in ministry is that from the very first adult study session that we started, the folks who came brought a small bit of food to share (without ever being asked). A few cookies, some bread, a few slices of cake. What is amazing that each brought enough food that can be eaten on their own, but when shared together there is always more than we can finish.