Today I had a very sad conversation with two people who will probably leave our church. I knew it was coming because of their circumstances, which dramatically and painfully changed this week. I wanted to tell them they should stick it out, stay here. I wished to be able to promise them the congregational support they so desperately need at this sad moment in their lives. But I couldn't. As I considered beforehand how I might encourage them, I realized that there's really nothing for them here. It made me wonder if there's anything for me here either.
I don't know.
Meg at Bridget Jones Goes to Seminary recently shared a reading list from one of her classes this fall. One book in that syllabus is an overlooked gem. It's called Leaving Ruin by Jeff Berryman. In light of the current situation in my life and ministry, I'm thinking today about one particular passage...
The poor in spirit. Should they memorize blessed or happy?
Tom Martin is here this morning. He's sporadic these days, and just had his twenty-seventh birthday, but he didn't tell anyone, and, unbelievably, we let it slip, and I think I heard he went to see Mission: Impossible at a cheap matinee, alone, and didn't leave the theatre until after midnight. Now he's in the corner, leaning his metal chair against the wall, balancing without thinking, chewing a straw and watching the morning sun playing tag with a cloud. He's trying not to imagine his wife's mouth buried in the face of another man, trying not to imagine the bed, and that's like saying don't see the white mountain, which of course, you always do. She left him and their four-year-old daughter not three months ago, and went north to Virginia, and Tom thinks it's for good. I haven't seen him break, but he showed a picture little Meghan drew, and I had to suck air, because it was mommy with a suitcase. The class helps out, but he's wounded, tearing his soul apart, probably, looking for the right piece of gut to graft into the wound. But no salve cleans, and no suture can repair, and he is face down, eating dust, crying to Jesus, and he must qualify for poor in spirit. I would say the kingdom belongs to him.