... but to ordain sinners.
I went to seminary with unreasonably high expectations of the people I would meet there. Truth be told, I went with unreasonably expectations of the me that I would meet in seminary.
In the pressure cooker that was the Post-Gene Robinson Episcopal Church, personal morality loomed like a storm cloud over VTS for my first 12 to 18 months there. Articles written in the student run magazine made the holy hill to look like an every-weekend-swingers-retreat. People looked at each other with suspicion, wondering what sort of skeleton was in their closet. It was an ugly time, full of intense and unhelpful emotions. The fracture in the church was manifest in the fracture in the student body.
Conservatives wanted to find dirt on Liberals to point out how unsuitable they were for ministry. Liberals wanted to find dirt on Conservatives to shine a bright light on their hypocrisy. As we held each other to the impossibly high standard of someone else's expectations, we created pedestals for ourselves that were precarious at best.
At some point in my second year, however, things began to change. The Presidential election was over. One whole class of students mired in the clay of division had graduated. And somebody, somewhere, finally said aloud, "The Church has no choice but to ordain sinners."
All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. As we heard in last week's Epistle reading, "While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
On Sunday, when we hear the story of the man born blind, we will get a glimpse into the damage that can occur when people, especially those in leadership, forget that WE ARE ALL SINNERS. The man, healed by Jesus, is thrown out of the Synagogue. The official reason, "You were born entirely in sin, and yet you try to teach us!?!"
None of us has it all together. Everyone struggles with something. None of us is beyond redemption and none of us is without need.