Even though it has been six years, I vividly remember walking into the retreat center for my first Bethany Fellows clergy retreat. Walking into a group of people who are some of our church’s best and brightest young clergy can be intimidating. I felt the self-inflicted need to have it all together so that people would know that I was a great pastor and brilliant preacher while being the perfect father and husband.
We began by sitting in a circle and sharing what was going on in our ministry at the time. I could tell that I wasn’t the only one who was frantically searching my spirit for a way to share only the really good stuff. I didn’t want to ruin my own image of perfection on the first day. Then something truly of the Spirit happened. People began to get real. One by one people became honest with the group and with themselves about their own struggles. The power of vulnerability swept over our group of people and began to unite us into a community. When we feel the need to project perfection, we are merely a crowd. When we get real and trust others with our own vulnerability, we become a community.
The community of Christ is called to be a place where we can be vulnerable. There has always been something odd to me about the need to put on our “Sunday best” for church. If there is one place where we should be able to drop the need for our “Sunday best” it should be the church. This Sunday, we will encounter a man named Jairus, a man who thought having it all together was his calling in life until his daughter became ill. He allows himself to be vulnerable and in doing so, discovers true life for both his daughter and himself.
I still get together for retreat with a group of my Bethany Fellows colleagues, all of whom are some of my best friends. They know I am not perfect. More importantly, we give each other the space to be vulnerable. Everyone needs the gift of this kind of space. We need powerful reminders of that which makes us vulnerable also makes us beloved by God.
This promises to be an excellent week to invite someone to church with you to hear an encouraging word of God’s grace. I look forward to seeing you at the Pool Party on Saturday and at church on Sunday.
Grace and peace,