I have been so grateful for the people in my congregation as I parent. This week I offer this letter of gratitude and confession:
|Saint With Slightly Bent Halo, Richard Kirsten Daiensai|
In our worship this year we are recognizing All Saints Day and in that context bringing infants to be blessed and dedicated to the care of God of this congregation – their cloud of witnesses. And let me tell you, friends, you are my saints. You are my saints because of your sincere prayers and love. You are my saints for your graciousness and understanding. You are my saints because of how you respond in times of need. You are my saints because of meals delivered, prayers said, hugs offered. You are my saints because when my child is melting down at ten o’clock on a rainy night at Camp Casey you hold my baby, pack me up and get me on the road home in record time.
Nadia Bolz Weber writes in her new book Accidental Saints,
"It has been my experience that what makes us the saints of God is not our ability to be saintly but rather God’s ability to work through sinners. The title “saint” is always conferred, never earned. Or as the good Saint Paul puts it, “For it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). I have come to realize that all the saints I’ve known have been accidental ones – people who inadvertently stumbled into redemption like they were looking for something else at the time, people who have just a wee bit of a drinking problem and manage to get sober and help other to do the same, people who are as kind as they are hostile.”
I confer upon you, followers of Jesus at Seattle Mennonite Church, the title of saint, for you have indeed willed and worked for God’s good pleasure – or at the very least have pleased this humble servant of God.
Megan has a piece of artwork in her office entitled “Saint with slightly bent halo,” (bad photo above) and friends, I feel my own halo is more than slightly bent. It is mighty dinged up. By God’s grace I trust that I too am still enabled by the Spirit to work for God’s good pleasure. But the dual call to both parent and to pastor has at times been really difficult and even painful as I have rarely felt fully able to give myself to either one. I bring my little one to be blessed in this congregation with great joy this All Saint’s Sunday because you are indeed my saints and his. And yet you will likely not see either of my children often for a while after that. I have kids – both of them, but maybe especially the elder – who right now need way more than I can offer them and still be present my a pastoral role on Sunday mornings.
I pray with hope that at some point in the future I will be able to be in worship and at other events of the church with both children in a way that will be an experience that honors all of us. And I ask that you will continue to offer grace to me, offering pastoral leadership in the area of family ministry even while my own family can’t accompany me. May we with all of our dinged up and dented halos receive God’s blessing as we seek to do God’s pleasure.