Tuesday, May 04, 2010

When the Sheep are Loving, Little Lambs are Made

The lectionary text this week was from John 13, starting with the 31st verse.
When he had gone out, Jesus said, ‘Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. 32If God has been glorified in him,* God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once. 33Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, “Where I am going, you cannot come.” 34I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. 35By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.’
A beautiful passage. The only NEW commandment that Jesus gives us. I carefully prepared my sermon; thought about "And they will know we are Christians by our love, by our love..."; was amused by the title of this posting (When the Sheep are Loving, Little Lambs are Made); researched illustrations and so forth.

What really hit me in the head this week, however, was the events of Monday Past. You see, I "sit in chairs" while my homeschool kids are doing the homeschool Orchestra thing. It's a Christian organization, but not militantly so. No statement of faith; just gentle reminders. I have a certain comfort level in this group; most are Lutherans or Methodists; we understand each other. I have a number of good friends in this mommy group and it's a group where I don't have to be the pastor all the time.

Monday Past, I was typing on this very laptop, doing some statistical research (yes, I do it for the fun of it) and paying attention to the group conversation with about half my brain. Most of the mommies (and a daddy) were arranging a backboard to be used at teh Homeschool conference that weekend. I love putting together things like that, but there seemed to be plenty of people to help and spread opinion around -- they didn't need my opinion. But my ears perked up when the conversation turned to "Baptist are different than Presbyterians because ...." My ears perked up because I have a seminary degree in "Know It All." I just HAD to make sure they had their facts straight.

What I didn't know -- that the daddy present was a minister in the Lutheran Confessing Movement. I later discovered that they make the Missouri Synod and Wisconsin Synod look moderate. I later discovered that their church does not allow women to hold ANY position in their church, nor do they allow the women to vote.

So I pull out my "Know It All" (a position that I'm sorta comfortable with, after all, I am paid to be a theologian in my congregation) and I begin to enter into the conversation. Somehow the conversation turned to my call (an innocent question from a bystander) and IT BEGAN. I started my testimony of how God called me and Rev. Conservative Lutheran started to interrupt; and I began to block and feint. Now, I'm not going to put it all on him. After the first few volleys, I was a willing participant in the battle. I put on my Theological Tank and began to lob handgrenades and shoot mortar shells. He hit me with 1 Cor 14 -- I parried with Galatians. He hit me with the Timothy Verses, I shot back the Rich Young Ruler. (I actually thought I got a good hit -- I argued that the Corinthian verse and Timothy verses were to specific congregations with specific questions; he claimed that the verses were inspired; then hit him with the Rich Young Ruler and asked it he had give away all his possessions and given the money to the poor; he said that it was a specific response by Jesus to a specific individual; I asked how could he used that argument here but not there? He could not come up with a reasonable response. SCORE!)

What I didn't notice until later is that my friends that I had built relationships with over the last year had trickled out, one by one, until only one was left. She asked to be excused and left after 10 or 15 minutes of this -- and I realized there were no winners to this argument; only losers. I had lost my loving Christian witness to so many of my friends. I wasn't loving people into the kingdom; I was more concerned with winning. At that point, I finished my business in the room, shut my laptop and left. I found myself crying in the parking lot, not out of shame or fear or anything but a horrible gnawing sadness that people who call themselves Christian were not known by their love that day, but by the labels they put on their hand grenades. I had instigated or participated in a Theological Tank Battle in a residential part of town and there was collateral damage. Little Lambs were not Made; but slain.

"Daily I crucify Christ and Daily He rises again." I don't know exactly where this quote comes from, but it is so very true. Daily. I confessed my sin; I know that I am forgiven but I am going to learn from this. There are battles worth fighting and battles that are not. I was not going to change Rev. Conservative Lutheran's mind; he was not going to change mine.

This week, I am going to concentration on Loving the Sheep. How about you?