Some people have an idealized image of their pastor as a person of automatic piety and prayer. They like to believe that their pastors are always walking with God, constantly filled with love of God and neighbor. But if one talks with a pastor for any length of time, one discovers that he or she is human, filled with flaws, failings and foibles. Yet hopefully, she also know where to go for restoration.
After a busy and emotionally draining season of church work, I knew my own flaws, failings and foibles were rising close to the surface. Fortunately my 12 step spirituality group had schedule a Step Eleven Retreat: “Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, praying only for the knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry it out.” We had chosen to spend 1-2 days at Pacem in Terris where each of us would spend time in our individual tiny cabin called a hermitage.
Like anything new, I approached the retreat somewhat awkwardly, wondering if I had brought enough clothing for the sub-zero or enough reading material. It turned out I had plenty of each.
The staff warmly welcomed me at the central house, gave me a brief orientation (“this is a place to rest your body, soul and spirit, so if your body needs a nap take it.”) and then took me out to my hermitage. Laura presented me with a basket of bread, cheese and fruit, showed me how to operate the gas burner for tea and how to light the sole gas lantern for light at night. Then she left me to be alone with God.
Each hermitage is named after a saint, and mine was St. John the Beloved. I took that name to heart and read from John’s Gospel and I John, relishing the promise of God’s love
But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, John 1:12
See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. I John 3:1
I reflected on a piece of mission statement I wrote nearly twenty years ago
Created in the image of God,
baptized into the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ,
and empowered by the Holy Spirit,
I am a child of God,
In our culture, even the church culture, our value is often determined by what we produce: what have I accomplished, achieved and acquired. Yet in God’s economy, our value rests solely in being his child.
What a valuable reminder to rest in that promise.
When or where have you spent time alone with God?
Lord Jesus, thank you that I am your beloved.
Next post: Inside the little cabin in the woods.