6As we work together with him, we urge you also not to accept the grace of God in vain. 2For he says, “At an acceptable time I have listened to you, and on a day of salvation I have helped you.” See, now is the acceptable time; see, now is the day of salvation! 3We are putting no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, 4but as servants of God we have commended ourselves in every way: through great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, 5beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; 6by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, holiness of spirit, genuine love, 7truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; 8in honor and dishonor, in ill repute and good repute. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; 9as unknown, and yet are well known; as dying, and see—we are alive; as punished, and yet not killed; 10as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing everything.
~ 2 Corinthians 5:20-6:10
We read this as a part of our leadership development time tonight at the church council meeting. Of course, because of my experience last Ash Wednesday, my reading of this passage is forever altered/ altared. This has become a sacred text that is written on my heart as deeply as if you could actually see the alphas and the omegas there, etched in the muscle. It has become the story of my life, 2009.
Not long ago I had to write my annual report to the congregation. As I sat staring at the blinking cursor, I thought, OK, as far as I'm concerned, one thing happened last year. One thing that eclipses all the other things, that is. I had to talk about coming out in my annual report. And I had to do so in a way that wouldn't open wounds that are beginning to heal in those few folks who were troubled and yet have stayed, and have welcomed my continuing care as their pastor. I think I pulled it off. My experience of last year was saturated with a profound gratitude, so that's the form my annual report took: a gratitude list.
Beginning tomorrow I am going to try to read and blog the daily lectionary as a part of my Lenten discipline. But the big thing for me this Lent is really the search for the center: that place of balance from which I can act without reacting, love without feeling needy about love, fail without wanting to die, succeed without thinking that is what makes me a valid person.
A blessed Lent to you, my friends.