Dinner in a Samburu Home

Peter Leithart recently wrote this –
Christian Society is not a fixed hierarchy or a flat plane.  It’s a see-saw of humility and elevation.
This is difficult for me to write.  This is going to seem self serving, introspective and overly sensitive and perhaps judgmental.
It started with the picture that you see above.  This was a young lady that traveled with our partners in 1001 Orphans a couple of weeks ago and went to visit the Womba site that I talked about.  I don’t know her name but will find out.  What struck me was the strange feeling of “angst” that came over me.  Here is where things get complicated.  I actually felt jealous that this young person experienced something that I did not.  I have showed you the picture of my time at Womba – the camels and the huts and the feeling of entering into the lives of these marvelous people and I found myself a bit jealous that this women was able to eat with them and stay with them and I didn’t.  I have had the same feelings about the latest group that we sent on the Mary Okeyo Scholarship trip that are in Kenya now.  So I had to do some soul searching and ask myself what is going on here?
Then I received this comment from one of our LWML ladies that may have muddied the waters or may have clarified the issue to a degree that really makes me uncomfortable.  This is in regard to the blogs that span the last week.

Hi Pastor, I am wondering if you will be speaking to us at our LWML District Convention on any of these topics? I don’t think many of the ladies think about these things when they undertake STM trips. We as Lutheran Women in Mission want to serve our Lord and Savior, so when anyone comes up with an idea or hears of this or that for a mission project we go for it without thinking of whether it’s a good idea or not. (I am speaking of the church societies, not the district or national). This is a good reason for our pastors to be involved with their local LWML group. Many pastors just tolerate LWML as a necessary evil and a place to go if the church needs money. (Not all of them are like this). We really need their counsel and support.

Pastors are a great resource when they want to be concerning mission and ministry and the opportunities that exist to continue work together.  Their  need to be engaged and ready to help is a necessary corrective to abuses and concerns that we have at the National and District level of the churches life together.  It is their proclamation of the Gospel and the administering of the gifts of our Lord that lead people to wnat to do something.  So my question and soul searching really began to heat up.  Why would I feel the way I did when I saw this picture?  Why would a Pastor see the LWML as a “necessary evil”.

The old human nature rears it’s ugly head at the most interesting of times.  We want to expand the circle and get as many people involved in our ‘life together” as we can and yet when we do, the old man say’s “it diminished me”.  The ugly truth is that if this young lady experienced what I did at Womba and more; if the travelers that are in Kenya experience what I did the first time I went and more; how is what I did and what I experienced “special”.  Will people call on me for insight into the work that we do there or will they call on this young lady?  How much has her newly acquired knowledge and experience diminished mine?

If I as a Pastor preach the Gospel that motivates people to go and do and they do, what has happened to the hierarchy that is established among us in our life together.  The LWML might get uppity.  Teenagers might get to go and do things that I as a Pastor didn’t get to do.

Let’s get really wild and crazy here – what if the older women in the LWML really meant what they say they do and start doing things that actively engage the younger women, like having rallies and meetings when working Mom’s can actually come and be a part of it, to what entent will it no longer be “their” LWML.

I told you this is hard.  My cheeks are burning as I write it.  But human nature being what it is we need to think about it.  To what extent is our witness and mercy really about “us” and not about the “other”?

There is a telling episode in Marks Gospel when Jesus and Peter, James and John are on the Mount of transfiguration.  When they come down there is a “tumult”.  Crowds and teachers of the Law have gathered because there is a boy with an unclean spirit that Jesus casts out and the diciples that were not on the mountain are petulant in their question – “why couldn’t we cast it out?”  This leads to their frustration with the people bringing little children to Jesus and the irritation with a person (not a disciple) who was casting out demons in Jesus name.  The obvious thrust of chapter 9 of Marks Gospel is that still, after all they had been through a lot of the disciples vision was focused on themselves.

So which part of the see-saw are you on – the humility downside, or the elevation upside?  This has a lot to do with how we view partnerships and our life together.