So I have been approved to advance to a “second interview” of sorts with the Board of Ordained Ministry of the East Ohio Conference United Methodist Church. A mouth-full I know. The process of ordination in the UMC is a long and trying one. The commitment to become ordained is huge… it’s a life decision. Because of the nature of this commitment, I have thought long and hard about Church and Church people.
It’s virtually impossible to be in church for any length of time without getting your feelings hurt or someone rubbing you the wrong way. People are people. We are complex and we are deep. Putting us all together into a “loving” community of believers can many times be a recipe for disaster. Unfortunately, disaster has been the norm for many churches. Many have left the church embittered, never to return to anything resembling a faith community. Is this not the grand difficulty of church -simply how we can all get along? John 13:34-35 says, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” When people drive me crazy, how can I love the Church?
It’s so easy to point out all of the examples of faith communities not working out, but what about the communities that are working? Is it not amazing that a hodge-podge mix of complicated and broken people can come together and experience God together? This is where I find the beauty of church -that despite all of our attitudes and failings, we can still be the Church of God. I may not like people at times, but I do love the Church. I find power in the invisible connection that I have with my sister and brother in Christ. I yearn for when we laugh together, cry together, worship together, pray together. I long for the harmony of people in ministry and the love we share together.
I used to be so bitter; and you might be in that place right now. I get it. But maybe it’s possible to love the Church and dislike people sometimes. I pray that you might forgive; and perhaps see the beauty that has been shown to me.