we’ll get through this

we’ll get through this August 14, 2021

If you’re not in that place of favor, gridlocked in the ministry of the mundane, don’t worry, we’ll get through this.

Sometime ago, not too long really, I yielded to the temptation to participate in the sacraments on my own. Some say it can’t be done. I know one pastor who has an altar in his parsonage. Doesn’t that sound like the Patriarchs, always building prayer altars everywhere they went?

What was my purpose? I seldom come to the altar/table for the sole purpose of penitence. I believe that phase of my catechesis is complete. That does not mean that I never repent, believe me! On the other hand, I do believe that among ecclesial communities, including mainline, high church, and all types of Protestants, the idea of the penitent is often misunderstood.

Was it Matthew 5 or 6, I believe 5, where Jesus says “Blessed are the poor in spirit”? The Scripture also says, “Blessed are the meek.”

What these two verses point to, in my opinion, is something like the penitent.

JVI | I wonder if it’s going to rain today like they said it would | 08.14.21

Oh that we would not rush on too quickly in our Protestant discipleship programs, without being a penitent. If we do, we fail to develop a real sense of mercy for the true penitents. We forget where we’ve come from. Even those of us who have been in church all our lives develop a case of nose-in-the-air; everyone less that us stinks.

On the other hand, the old proverb goes, “He/She who looks down his/her nose at others, always gets the wrong angle on things” (14 Solomon 8.5).

Right as we are, determined to practice our faith, we may fail to see the needs in those who are struggling.

Now I know good therapists probably are empathetic, for the most part, but there are over 300 theories out there.

In Glen Arbor, I have been introduced to a deacon who is becoming pastor. He is also around Adult Protective Services, and has begun to think, “I could work with these people.” It’s always professional and perhaps even helpful to network with those in the social services.

Back to the Scripture

Poor in spirit does not necessarily refer to actual poverty, or a vow of poverty, no matter what somebody may say.

It’s the abject poverty of the soul, someone stripped of former dreams, hopes, dare I say vision, and all strategems. Whether he/she takes the wrong turn in life, or people get in the way, or extraneous factors interfere, it probably doesn’t matter. It’s the same outcome, poor in spirit. In this paragraph it’s all personal, or at least it feels that way sometimes like yesterday, but it’s just an example, a self-disclosure. When you’re mentoring it’s easier to self-disclose than it is with counseling because of two different natures of the formal relationships.

However, the following Scriptural examples really have nothing to do with me, but are moreso for whom it may concern. Think of being stripped of whatever is a blessing to you. What about the person who gains the whole world and loses his/her soul (Matthew 16; Mark 8; Luke 9)? Jesus is not speaking about a deathwish. He’s speaking about a lack of spiritual vitality. Instead of using psychological terms, because a variety of disorders can be related if one must try to diagnose, I’ll use another Scripture. It’s not about how dark the eye is, but about those who think they have light in their eyes, but it’s really darkness (Matthew 6). You can see the flash photography illuminating my eyes, but metaphorically what is Jesus saying?

Both of these references are example of pity sayings, proverbs of Christ, not unlike a brief self-disclosure when counseling (with good reason), or more freely with mentoring. We want people to learn from such sayings. What do they mean to you, and remember they are more like proverbs than they are like something dark?

The Scripture also says Blessed are the meek, meaning what?

I believe the Patristics spoke of continence of character. I know that sounds funny, but it is translated from the Greek Fathers I think. Some of them believe continence is the greatest virtue in Paul’s virtue list in Galatians 5. It is self-control or temperance.

Meekness would probably be strength under control. One of the root words is battering ram, oddly enough. Repeatedly through the Psalms the anointed bard cries out Swing wide ye heavenly gates. There is a way that we can praise God, and the doors of favor can open for us. If you’re not in that place of favor, gridlocked in the ministry of the mundane, don’t worry…

we’ll get through this

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