Thursday, February 10, 2011

Children of Light

I owe a thank-you to Jennifer Whittaker, the writer of this week's d365 devotional. She mentions the following passage and it is worth remembering as I am feeling nudged to move once more into the realm of church service.

"For once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light. Live as children of light — for the fruit of the light is found in all that is good and right and true. Try to find out what is pleasing to the Lord."

Ephesians 5:8-10

My pastor and I discussed opportunities for service yesterday, exploring those areas of my nearly 20 years of service. Certain things gave me great joy as they were recalled, brought out of the dimness, and reexamined in the daylight of the present time and space.

Others were best left to the darkness.

For instance, I have no intention of ever putting myself back into the position of being attacked by a parent because there were potato chips and candy present at a youth group meeting.

I don't ever want to clean up a church after a case of sexual misconduct in ministry again. Ever. Did I say ever? I meant ever, ever, ever.

On the other hand, I would welcome an open conversation with a parent who laments that their child states s/he doesn't believe in God. It would give me great joy to engage in a discussion of belief and science or one about the mystery of baptism. It would tickle me to no end to feel relevant to people making the effort to grapple with issues of faith. I could imagine great satisfaction working for social justice.

In today's writing, Jennifer also cites Matthew's gospel, Mat. 5:18-20:

"Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."

All of the above points to the inevitable question: When a person is faced with re-shaping their own self-definition, what influences the definition? Do we please others? Do we please ourselves?

Do we please God?

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