Crossing Boulevard

with Rev. Rachel


I was at a loss for words. Somewhere between extending grace and peace and whatever was supposed to follow, I saw them. David and Tammy were in the house. This was last Sunday, an already set apart one, with Meredith at the microphone (bravo) and Hannah on the brink of her miracle. Maybe that’s why I was so easily thrown off keel.

I was back in time to that place where she was my pastor and David misbehaved on the pew in front of me. There, I was a laywoman. Then, in their home, the saying hung in a small black frame: “What we are is God’s gift to us. What we become is our gift to God.”

Priests offer gifts. In ancient times, they offered these in acknowledgement of sin (v.1). People looked to them, the official ones, to give on their behalf (v.3). The vast majority outsourced their sacrificial giving.

At least, that was Martin Luther’s interpretation. He came along and rallied the people to reclaim their membership in the body of Christ. Sounds simple enough—that this was a matter of making something undemocratic democratic, but democracy as we know it emerged after the 16th century upheaval in Europe.

Worshipping a constitution or freedom for freedom’s sake is a relatively recent trend. Religious reformers like Luther pleaded for the laity to get serious about their discipleship and to use their freedom for good—to fulfill their baptismal vows in reverent submission (v.7) to Christ, the priest over all.

Submission carries connotations of manipulation and abuse. Neither laity nor clergy ought submit in that sense of the word. But if we are going to really offer our prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness (and not just our opinions) then clergy and laity in shared submission to our baptisms is a must. Call it yielding.

The saying still hangs on an Eastern Shore wall. It still wants to know if I am becoming my gift to God, but it has grown bolder in it’s probing. So you’re clergy now. I take a deep breath and prepare to receive the reprimand/gracious realignment. Are your lay brothers and sisters becoming their gift?

UncategorizedDrew Willson