Monday, May 23, 2005

Sleepless in the sticks

Last night I slept, well, poorly... I'm not sure if it was because of the practical crisis in my wife's ordination process, or the more mundane possibility that a combination of sausage and manicotti for lunch and grilled ham and cheese was actually more pork and dairy products than any one human being should consume in a day (I'm sure it must be the former, as the latter is clearly an absurdity -- too much ham, cheese and sausage is self-contradictory for people with functional gall-bladders)...

It must be my dear wife's ordination woes -- today she has talked to the pastor of our home church, consulted with two District Superintendents, and done everything but call the Bishop to resolve an unfortunate matter of confusion at the local church level that could stymie the ordination process for her... Some things just don't seem right (like being held responsible for other people's failures -- wasn't Calvary supposed to do something about setting that right?), and far too often, those are things we cannot seem to fix.

We talked to our now-retired former pastor, who told me a story about United Methodist polity: One of the General Boards comissioned a study. When the report came back from the company conducting the study, the representatives of the company told the general board that in all the years they had spent analyzing major corporations, non-profits, and other large corporations they had never seen anything so complicated and complex as the United Methodist Church. The corporate reps had only one question for the general board... "Who's in charge?" Fellow Methodists, how many times have we asked that very question! I bet you know what the General Board staffers said... "Well, no one really runs it, it just sort of runs itself..." Yes, that seems true; yet sometimes, I think I hear a still, small voice trying to speak through all of the beaurocratic clutter that seems to want to silence it, and I know that the One who formed all things, and who commanded the sea to be still is still at work, even in this hyperorganized part of the Body of Christ.

If you're willing to look, there are signs of hope that the Spirit is at work all over the place. Today, I went to help move the leftovers from a church supper fundraiser -- a New England church tradition -- to be served at a free meal for those in the community who can't afford to feed their families without help. The woman who heads up the project in my wife's church has been widowed for just over a week, but was gladly busy with the work she does after every church supper. Christ is active in His Body, leading the saints in building His Kingdom, even when the darkness seems to be closing in on us.


Anonymous said...

I don't quite understand sometimes why God chooses to use the one thing in his creation that can say 'no'. We tend to make such messes of ourselves, even (maybe especially) in matters related to him. And yet, there is something quietly striking about someone who simply decides to serve our Lord and his people, warts and all.

We mess up the institutions set up to do the work of the kingdom, and yet the King's work still gets done. Should we really expect anything less from him who was dead, yet is now alive forevermore?


Adrienne said...

As we all know, it's never their fault, always ours.

I feel for you brother. And sister. I don't suppose some nice new shelves would help cheer you up, would they? Because we got em'. I could bribe the DCOM with a toaster or something.

Adrienne said...

We could start a web ring for people with UMC ordination issues.

Adrienne said...

Dude, we have, like, 6 dish drainers. I'll put a good looking one near the playstation.

I'm looking into the web ring. I think it'd take off.

And you're right. We need to find a better way to communicate.