11 March 2010

As I prepare to retire from the Army in a few weeks after 27+ years as an active duty Chaplain, I find myself thinking about things I have not averted to very often during my service. I have grown accustomed to serving with Chaplains whose traditions are different from my own, yet whom by and large I have come to respect and admire. They have taught me that we all serve the same Loving God, although we might approach him by different ways. I have learned from them respectful tolerance and mutual respect and support. Rarely and on few occasions have I felt that I needed to watch my six, since others were watching it for me as I hope I was watching theirs. If I could had pick a group of chaplains to work with so I could leave the Army with a wonderful and rich feeling of fullness and satisfaction, I could not do better than the brother and sister pastors I serve with now.

My concern is for my own Church, my own tradition. I see us drawing lines and building walls to keep those out who do not agree fully with us in whatever matter is under discussion.  I feel we are driving away the same people Jesus reached out to when he was among us. If we believe the Church has Christ’s mission, might there be a disconnect somewhere? Is the way we are “doing business” these days the right way? Did Jesus have it wrong? Would Jesus throw a child out of his group of disciples because the child’s parents were in a same sex relationship?

Jesus spent time with people and taught them through a personal relationship. He did not issue edicts from a walled city governed by men who do not know the customs, history, or sensibilities of the people they claim to teach rule and sanctify. He treated everyone he met with respect due them as brothers and sisters of the same Father. He did not avoid them because they were in some arcane legal sense “irregular” = “married outside the church”.

He welcomed everyone, and turned away not one. “Neither do I condemn you.” He doesn’t have to condemn. The tradition to which I have given my life condemns better than Jesus ever could.

I am glad I am not headed for a position of responsibility in the Church. I could not do it and have retain any sense of integrity.

I do not see myself preaching any of this in homilies, but these are my thoughts. I do not know where they are going.

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. DonRutherford  |  March 15, 2010 at 09:50

    I couldn’t agree more. The Church is going down a road I don’t like. I am not looking forward to entering the Diocese again. I have hard decisions to make in @ 5 yrs. God be with you in retirement. maybe we should start our own order. One that cares for people for what they truly are, God’s Children, not machines that follow mindless rules imposed by heartless ndividuals.

    Reply
    • 2. John McRae  |  March 22, 2010 at 13:02

      Don – You are always trying to lead a rebellion (Ha, Ha). Best to you in these next 5 years.

      John

      Reply
  • 3. Jim Dubik  |  March 22, 2010 at 10:43

    I share many of these concerns as well. But I have perhaps a littel different reaction as to “what to do.”Someone once said that for evil to grow in the world, all that is necessary is htat good people remain silent and withdraw. Is there a parallel? For a good institution to go awry all that is necessary is for those who see the error in direction to be silent and withdraw.

    One of the reasons that I stayed in the army as long as I did is to help “fix” the post-Viet Nam army, then to help adapt to the post Cold War strategic environment and the emergence of the Information Age. One of the reasons that I’ve aligned myslef with the National leadership Roundtable it to help improve temporal management and leadership within the Church that I love and from which I have received so much.

    I have no conclusion or suggestion to make, but only offer the foregoing as a perspective worthy of consideration.

    Good luck, Jim

    Reply
    • 4. phrogge  |  April 1, 2010 at 09:03

      Jim — we’re on the same page, just maybe different lines. I don’t plan to hide and be silent. Not my style. I’m just not sure what my course of action will be. I feel an interest to somehow work with the people I feel the “official” Church is keeping out, but we’ll see. I am trying to keep my focus on prayer and the desire to go wherever it takes me. I don’t want it to be about me, but about what the Lord is calling me to do. I think I have assimilated the idea of mission first, but I’m not sure what the mission will be. Right now I think it is to “pray my good-byes” and make the transition as a journey of prayer. “The game is afoot . . .”

      Reply

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