Tuesday, December 10, 2013
A Carebear in a Collar. . .
If you have read here before you have heard me say that the easiest flaw of the pastor, any pastor, is to desire to be loved. Such a desire moves us to do stupid things, things that embarrass and shame us. So we ham it up during the liturgy as if God needed a monologue to set the tone and a side show from the presider to keep things moving on the right path. We shrug our shoulders at sin when people ask us because we prefer not to offend (those living together outside of marriage, children who were baptized but are not being raised in the faith, people who are constantly but understandably busy on Sunday mornings, etc...). We accede to requests that we should not (sentimental music during weddings and funerals that has nothing whatsoever to do with the faith, goofiness at weddings and funerals that belittle the character of a service in God's house, among other things). We commit to things beyond our human ability to do, stretch ourselves to the boiling points, and then feel guilty when we cannot keep all our competing promises to be there or here (but strangely feel less guilty about failing to visit the shut ins or the sick).
We try to be carebears in a collar more than bearers of Christ to His people, by bearing His Word and Sacraments with the esteem and honor due these means of grace. We tend to the cult of personality in which we think people will come because of us and will leave unless we smile all the time and are nice in the face of all the excuses and strange requests that are made of us. We take everything personally and we make everything personal about us. We are carebears in a collar.
Roman Catholics are just as guilty as Protestants and Lutherans in this. It is our stumbling block, the stone of offense that offends the One whom we should honor and honors things unworthy of Him who has set us apart for His service. I do it. You know others who do it as well. Perhaps the only thing worse is the ogre in the collar or troll in the collar who delights in being, acting, and speaking offensively. In either case, we make it more about me than the Mass, more about me than the Gospel, and more about me than the Truth. We do no one a service by giving into this weakness. Not even ourselves.
Just something to think about... The next time somebody asks you if they can have Lay Lady Lay sung at their wedding or Another One Bites the Dust sung at a funeral (both actual requests that have come to me or a colleague). When we treat our offices and our callings as things trivial, the God whom we represent is also represented as someone trivial and of little consequence. Don't be mean, for God's sake, but be true to the Lord and speak the truth always... and always in love.