That’s the thing about pearls: in their imperfections, they mirror the church. Furthermore, the more they are worn, the more beautiful they seem to become. They grow richer with age. They come in many different hues and shades.
I have always loved pearls and have a nice collection of them, some from years past, some quite recently acquired.
A meme has recently appeared on Facebook with a photo of a woman wearing her pearls and noting this:
Wearing my pearl necklace in solidarity with my clergy sisters in Louisiana as we pray and celebrate unity in our diversity in the United Methodist Church. Just as no two pearls are alike, no two Methodists are alike, yet we are bound together in love and faith in God’s saving grace in Jesus Christ. May we remember this as the UMC goes into the called session of General Conference this weekend.
I think it is a marvelous idea; I will wear one of these sets of pearls around my neck as my personal gesture of solidarity.
The thing about pearls: the more they are worn, the more beautiful they seem to become. They grow richer with age. They come in many different hues and shades. And they are not just different from each other, but they are each imperfect in their individual ways. Made by natural processes, they are full of what some might call “flaws” with their rough, unevenly smooth surfaces.
That seems to me to be an almost ideal image of the church, the place of the gathering of those who follow Jesus: flawed, different, uneven, multi-hued. And while single pearls have their beauty, they shine best when grouped with other pearls. A single diamond on a necklace can be stunning, but pearls look far better worn as a strand, each touching the one next to it, all tied together by a piece of string, drilled through as the love of God drills into our souls.
As have so many others who have recently written about this pivotal time for the UMC, the Called General Conference, starting Feb. 23, 2019, I also pray for the glory of God to be shown in our imperfections, for us to be the church with all our human flaws, for us to become more beautiful as we age, and for us to recognize that a strand of pearls can always be made longer, and to be aware that multiple strands only enhance each other’s richness of faith.
I will do my best, as an observer, as one who seeks to be an unobtrusive, but very aware, fly on the wall, to write what I see through the lens of the beauty of the pearls. May we all kneel at the feet of Jesus as we seek our way forward.
Image credit: (c) Christy Thomas, all rights reserved.