Pettifoggery.

The world is an uproar! Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. used the word pettifogging! (Pettifogging can be defined more aptly as, “worrying too much about details that are minor or not important.”) In doing so, he not only reminded speakers to maintain decorum, but used this seldom-uttered word to make a salient point.

Chief Roberts delivered his sharp rebuke yesterday during the Impeachment Trial to both House managers and lawyers for the President for their decorum as the impeachment debate. He said, “I think it is appropriate at this point for me to admonish both the House managers and president’s counsel in equal terms to remember that they are addressing the world’s greatest deliberative body.”

I wonder, however, if we might be accused of the same thing? After all, is this not what we do every time we take the Church – the world’s greatest body ever – for granted, or rally against the minor points as we so easily dismiss the bigger picture of a ‘life of service’ and that ‘love of our neighbor’ thing?

I know that as we begin another brand-new year, and our thirteenth year on March 27th as a parish, and begin to look toward our Annual Parish Meeting, that many times I hear grumbling about small, inconsequential things while we let go of the most important. We concentrate on the inconsequential while forsaking the key things that make is what we are! Recently, even Pope Francis warned against “the temptation of assuming an attitude of rigidity.”

I think there is always an ever-present temptation toward rigidity. We like the status quo; the way thing are; but I will remind us all that what we created here was completely against that type of thinking. In doing so, we live the gospel imperative as we openly and warmly welcome the lost, the marginalized, the maligned, the immigrant, the refugee, the seeker, the LGBTQ, and the rejected and bring them all ‘home’ to a place where they can find – and feel – the love of the Christ we worship, adore, and proclaim. You can’t do that by being rigid.

I wonder if in our being stretched – by our pastors and church leadership and places like Saint Miriam – and, as we willingly run contrary to the prevailing culture, we actually run smack into God? Not the cartoonish caricature of God, but the real, always-present, omnipotent and crafty God that wants a deeper and more meaningful communion with us, even as we strive for superficiality. I wonder if we ever stop to realize that the Church is to be more than a soft, cushy place we sit our butts for an hour or so on a Sunday and then return to a hateful world, but instead see Her as She is meant to be: Missionary! In other words, the Churches mission is carried out by us!

The Italian novelist Giuseppe Tomasi de Lamedusa, who in his famous book Il Gattopardo reminds us all that, “Everything needs to change, so everything can stay the same.” I assure you will continue to change.

Hang in there, hold on, and get ready because we have more work to do and more people to love. Change will make that possible.

 


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