In Church Leadership class on Monday, we had a guest speaker about mission development, which is not the point of this post. I only mention it because he prayed with us this prayer of Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero from 1980. [Sidebar: If you're not familiar with Archbishop Romero, please spend like three minutes on Wikipedia. He was an incredible human being.]
It helps, now and then, to step back and take a long view.
The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is even beyond our vision.
We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work.
Nothing we do is complete, which is a way of saying that the Kingdom always lies beyond us.
No statement says all that could be said.
No prayer fully expresses our faith.
No confession brings perfection.
No pastoral visit brings wholeness.
No program accomplishes the Church’s mission.
No set of goals and objectives includes everything.
This is what we are about.
We plant the seeds that one day will grow.
We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces far beyond our capabilities.
We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.
This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.
It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest.
We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker.
We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs.
We are prophets of a future not our own.
This prayer reminded me very much of some words from our main man Martin Luther that I hold very dear.
"This life, therefore, is not godliness but the process of becoming godly, not health but getting well, not being but becoming, not rest but exercise. We are not now what we shall be, but we are on the way. The process is not yet finished, but it is actively going on. This is not the goal but it is the right road. At present, everything does not gleam and sparkle, but everything is being cleansed."
These resonate with all of the process theology that's been rattling around in my head all semester. There are things that "church" needs to be doing, but we must also recognize that we cannot do everything. We cannot be everything. But we can do something and be something. The future holds so many possibilities and so much space for process and progress.
And not just the church as an institution! We, as the body of Christ, are in this same process as individual parts and members in relationship to one another and in relationship to ourselves. I just wanted you to think about that.