The power of vulnerability

Dear Glen Mar friends,

Brene Brown, researcher and writer, gave a viral TedTalk about 10 years ago on the power of vulnerability. She said vulnerability "is the center of difficult emotion but also the birthplace of every positive emotion in our world - love, joy, empathy." You can't have creativity or innovation or change without vulnerability. You would never take a risk if you thought you would not be allowed to be vulnerable, to be yourself, or even to fail.

We don't think we want to be vulnerable - vulnerability is not something we value in driven Howard County, or in my government job. But vulnerability is part of what it means to follow Jesus. Jesus modeled vulnerability - he entered into authentic, empathetic, socially risky relationships with women and lepers and gentiles and tax collectors. He wept. He got angry. He loved and showed that love. I believe it is very hard to be a Christian without a degree of vulnerability, that allows us to love, and care for one another, to show true empathy and joy.

It's easy, I think, in a big church to get caught up in "the excellence of the product" - the perfection or lack thereof of online worship, or outdoor gatherings, or the degree to which our policies and procedures are perfected. And excellence is a good thing. But I often think the best of church happens when what matters most is the relationships we build, our vulnerability with God and with each other. I think "perfectionism" is a sin against the Holy Spirit, because if we are perfect, God has nothing to do, the Holy Spirit has no room to work, and if we feel we have to be "perfect" or even "excellent", we can't have vulnerability, courage, creativity, joy, or authentic relationships. Sometimes we can get so caught up in the culture of "More" - more ministries, more programs, more things - if 1 of something is good, a hundred must be better - and we run the risk of losing things like time and space to connect with each other, to notice God at work in our lives, and to hear what God has to say to us. What if relationships are even more important than "excellence?"

Paul said, "But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us." 2 Corinthians 4:7.

Glen Mar, I don't want to pastor a perfect church (Good News, I don't!). And I'm not a "perfect" pastor. But if what we want is a church full of folks who are wanting very much to grow in love of God and neighbor, I'm in. If what we want is a big(gish) church that feels like a small(er) church in the way that we care about one another, I'm in. If what we feel God's calling us to be is vulnerably here for and with our equally vulnerable neighbors, especially in a culture that is so mean and divisive and "unempathetic"....well, sign me up for that.

In the midst of this bizarre season, I think this might be an opportunity to let go of a little of our perfectionism (which is the thought that we can by being perfect, avoid fear, blame and shame) and embrace a little more vulnerability. If you're not always perfect, you've come to the right church, and trust me, you have the right pastor(s) too.

You can RSVP here for Saturday Night Live - And I'll see you online on Sunday, where we will continue our series "Playdate with Jesus" with "A Big Picnic."

See you in person and/or online,
Pastor Mandy