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March 26, 2009

Isn't She Lovely?

Brian Hull is a friend of mine who, along with his family, was a part of the community of Jacob's Well. I say "was," but I still consider the Hulls as part of the community even though they recently moved out of Kansas City so that Brian could take position teaching at a seminary. I received an email from Brian a couple of days ago checking in and sharing a quote that has been helpful and moving to him. When I read it, my eyes filled with tears.

How baffling you are, oh Church, and yet how I love you!

You have made me suffer, and yet how much I owe you!

I should like to see you destroyed and yet I need your presence.

You have given me so much scandal and yet you have made me understand sanctity.

I have seen nothing in the world more devoted to obscurity, more compromised, more false, and I have touched nothing more pure, more generous, more beautiful. How often I have wanted to shut the doors of my soul in your face, and how often I have prayed to die in the safety of your arms.

No, I cannot free myself from you, because I am you, although not completely.

And where should I go?

This quote comes from Carlo Carretto and is found in his book, The God Who Comes.

Anyone who has sought to live out their life of faith in the midst of a particular community, who has sought to be a Jesus-person with other Jesus-people, knows both the highs and the lows of true, as opposed to idealized, community. I think this reality is what underpins what Carretto has written.

Reading Carretto here reminds me of both the joys and costs of discipleship. As I read and re-read this quote, I find that the divine tension that he describes to be incredibly compelling. Some might read it and be discouraged by the first and very human halves of each of his propositions. Many people allow themselves to be taken out of play by such things. Rather than discouraging me, though, I find that I am pulled forward by the beauty and promise of the second, divine half of the equation. And let me also say I am stirred not in spite of the limitations of the first-half statements but because it is God who enters those very limited, human, and broken places to claim, transform, and make them holy. It is this hope and reality that ignites and fuels my desire to be bound again and again to God, to Christ, and to his bride, the church - a broken, messy, beautiful, glorious Church/church filled with broken, messy, beautiful, and glorious people.

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Jeremy D. Scott

Thank you for that, Tim (and Brian).

It's poignant for me in these days.

There have been a few times as I've driven home from a particularly difficult visit or meeting with some who are missing what it means to follow Christ despite a lifetime in the Church that listening to Derek Webb's "The Church" has helped in similar ways:

(the song on the player on the right, not the video)


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