September 23rd, 2015

I had already planned to write a column for today’s newsletter, which I do about once a month.

I had already planned to write about this week’s final sermon in the series, “Why We Do What We Do.”

I had already planned to connect the sixth Core(inth) Value, “Member Care,” with the upcoming Family Life Conference October 9-10, and our keynote speaker, Curt Thompson.

I had already planned this morning to finish reading Dr. Thompson’s newest book, The Soul of Shame: Retelling the Stories We Believe About Ourselves, and refer to it in my column.

What I hadn’t planned on was what I found in the Acknowledgments at the end of the book –

Over the last several years as I have been invited to speak in so many difference places, I have been the recipient of the unfathomable gift of new relationships. These people have honored me by inviting me into their communities, allowing me to be a part of their journey as they do the hard work of scorning shame, turning to new avenues of vocational creativity, and providing deep comfort and encouragement to me on the path to completing this book. These communities include but are not limited to Corinth Reformed Church in Hickory, North Carolina….

My first thought was, “We don’t deserve that. Curt, do you know enough about us? If you saw what I see on a daily basis…relationships ruptured, disillusioned ‘members’ who are no longer active, addictions that remain hidden because vulnerability doesn’t feel safe, pastors and staff who regularly feel inadequate for our calling….”

Oh, that’s what the book is about. Shame says, “I’m not worthy. We’re not worthy.” Curt Thompson treats shame not as a thing but almost as a person. Shame stalks, lies, whispers, hides, screams, lurks, divides – whatever works to destroy. “One way to envision shame is as a personal attendant,” Curt says, shame actively opposes the work of the Holy Spirit.

I’ll make sure some copies of The Soul of Shame are available for you to buy or borrow (from the church library) starting this Sunday.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer says in Life Together that we destroy Christian community when we envision the “ideal” and try to make it happen. God has created us for the capacity to be known by him and by others how we really are, not how we want to be perceived. It is in the admission that we are flawed that we find the hope of the gospel applied to our families and our church. Join us Sunday for worship, and be sure you’re signed up for the Family Life Conference.

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