I think one of the hallmarks I love best about Saint Miriam is that I have never once claimed to be perfect. In fact, we don’t ask anyone else to be either! While we do go to great lengths to protect our children, staff, and parishioners from such things as inappropriate touching and harassment, etc., we also do not preach against others for any past sins and mistakes. We believe we are called to be better than we are today. We are not called to be better without mistake and flaw. I am living proof that someone who has been sinful can still find their way to God’s grace. No one is sinless, least of which me, even as your pastor. So, no, I’m not perfect. Please don’t ask me to be and I will not look for you to be either.
Since our founding, we have advocated that God loves us, sinful and broken as we are, and that through His Son, we have found a way to salvation. That salvation does not require that we are sinless, it requires that we are dedicated to God’s love and acceptance of ourselves and others, too. We do that well here at Saint Miriam by our radical welcome of people like me; those who have made mistakes and yet are trying to become better people.
I began my life in a wonderful family. I made several mistakes along the way, many of which have become public. All of which I am ashamed of, but I strive every day to be better and to do better. I have never been perfect, and my broken parts and sins sometimes amaze even me, but through it all I have prayed and tried to be a better person, more loving pastor, and living example of how I might show others that God is always love and always in love with us, despite our sinful ways.
Jesus launched the church before His Ascension that we honor this coming week. It was messy and led by flawed leaders. The early church began in a time where the culture was shifting, political and religious leaders didn’t agree, and the fledgling churches had their own internal problems, and the moral landscape was suspect. (Sound familiar?)
I once read an article about the owner of a landscaping business who often remarks that the garden is just as beautiful in the winter as the summer. I’ll admit that it is sometimes difficult to see and appreciate that fact. He says, “Nature isn’t perfect but it’s still beautiful.” I think the church – and those of us who lead them – are similar. It’s not that we are perfect, but it’s still beautiful because we allow God to come through our cracks.
This Sunday we will gather and honor the Feast of the Ascension with three masses at 7:30am, 9:00am, and 11:00am, but we will also watch two new lives become Christians at the font of Baptism, and see some of our youngest make their First Penance as they prepare to make their First Holy Communion! They will, with our help not enter a church that demand their perfection, only their willingness to blend their imperfections with ours and serve a God of love.
I see, in the church as a whole, that people are not perfect; none of us. I’m not and you’re not. But that is the beauty of us! The true beauty in each person, in each creation, is still there, despite our brokenness. Instead of looking for what can’t be, let’s ascend to be what we can be someday! They say we always see what we look actively for, so maybe we all we need to simply look for is God, and not harm one another with gossip, and seek that greener lawn that never really existed.
See you Sunday!