On Sunday we are going to bury the question “Am I doing this right?” Perhaps we won’t bury it once and for all (the question has a way of never dying), but we will stop making it so front and center in our worship service and hopefully in our lives. We’ll bury the phrase much in the same way as some Christians bury the word alleluia during the season of Lent.
Of course there is still much to explore with this question and as usual, this preacher’s mind is swirling with many scripture passages, images, questions, concerns, doubts, and insecurities. It’s the “simmer point” of the sermon preparing process. A lot of ingredients are in the pot right now, interacting with each other and cooking and I’m hoping that the meal doesn’t burn.
Here’s just a few of those ingredients.
From Matthew 5:48: “Be perfect/teleios, therefore, as your heavenly father is perfect/teleios.”
The Greek word for perfect is teleios, which most often means complete, mature, or whole. Doesn’t teleios sound way better than perfect? Striving for completeness, maturity, and wholeness, while no less daunting, sounds more appealing to me than striving for perfection.
I tend to side with Anne Lamott, who writes this about the bad word that is perfection:
“Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft. I think perfectionism is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping-stone just right, you won’t have to die. The truth is that you will die anyway and that a lot of people who aren’t even looking at their feet are going to do a whole lot better than you, and have a lot more fun while they’re doing it.”
I guess you can’t quote Anne Lamott with a few salty words mixed in.
Another quote (or should I say spice) that is in the sermon pot right now is this one from Madeleine L’Engle:
We become whole by being all our ourselves, including the aspects of ourselves we like least as well as those of which we are able to approve. When we try to approve of ourselves (rather than to love ourselves) we tend to lose both our senses of humor and of wonder. Only if I retain the irradiating joy as I see the first trout lily in the spring, the first bright red of the partridge berries in the autumn, can I become a ‘grown-up.’
And finally I share this lovely spice/quote that I spotted on Facebook: (I wish I knew who to credit!)
“Discovering who you are involves learning the difference between accidental limitations which it is our duty to outgrow and the necessary limitations of our nature beyond which we cannot trespass with impunity.”
In other words, to become whole means to accept ourselves as we are, and at the same time, to expect more of ourselves and seek greater wholeness Accepting who we are and yet expecting more is hard yet HOLY work.
Therefore I invite you to prepare this meal with me. Feel free to comment or share other quotes or reflections either of your making or the making of others.