This past Sunday, in honor of Pentecost, seeded paper was placed in each bulletin at our church. The idea was that you could plant it and wildflowers would grow. During a song, we were to write words and phrases that came to mind when we thought of Highlands. Some came easily: Redemption… Practicing Upside-Down Kingdom… And then I wrote, Celebrating imperfect gifts and my eyes filled with tears.
While this is one of the things I love most about our church – that everyone can serve; that no one is excluded – I tend to judge one part of the service harshly. I mentally criticize tiny details and I wonder why we can’t just do better in this one area. The thing is, I know I’m in the vast minority with my griping. Most people adore this area of our service and come to our church specifically for this experience. Clearly, it’s my own petty issue.
On Sunday, as soon as I read Celebrating imperfect gifts on my paper, I realized how I did not celebrate the imperfect gifts of others. I relished in the acceptance and embrace of my own imperfections, and yet I refused to extend this same grace to others.
I need to remember that our church is made up of pastors who give more of their time than they receive in salaries. It’s made up of volunteers who give hours and hours of their time to keep it running. Why on earth would I expect perfection when amazing things are being done simply because people love – love Christ, love Highlands, and love their neighbors.
I need to remember that Jesus founded the church on imperfections. Lists have already been made of all the imperfections in church history – from the Old Testament’s Abraham, Moses, and David to the New Testament’s Peter and Paul, perfection certainly has never been a requirement of faith. If anything, it seems to detract from a person’s ability to fully experience the grace and love of Christ.
So, I need to shift my reactions and choose grace. I need to recognize my own imperfections and remember that grace is the reason I am loved and received at Highlands. When I feel critical, I need to choose grace. And, as with all practices, the longer I choose grace, the less I will notice these “imperfections” and simply be open and willing to love my church family.
Do you struggle with extending grace? Where’s an area in your life that you need to choose grace?
Linked with (in)courage Grace Writers group’s Defining Grace.