“I need you for my priest, and while we are at it, I’m available to you as your priest.”
—Eugene Peterson, The Jesus Way
“This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.”
—1 Corinthians 4:1
I think everyone wants to have someone be a step above them, willing to provide support or give direction. For most people, that would be parents or maybe a teacher. And there is a kind of safety in knowing there is some last resort you can turn to, someone with whom you will always be welcome. But what happens when that step above is suddenly gone? When a parent dies or is unavailable, when a teacher moves on to other things? When there is no one but you at the top of the ladder with lots of others below looking up. There is an aching sense of loneliness, of being cut off and unprotected in the world that no amount of other good things can take away.
This Sunday, the pastor of the church I visited talked about tears as the only way the soul can express the love it needs to express. So tears are about something that was loved and is lost. Or something that was needed and did not come. Tears are about parents who are gone too soon or even in good time, about innocence lost and loving the girl who lost it. As the sermon Sunday explained, God never says, “stop crying,” but he does say “stop doubting.” When the God who raised people to life seems so far off, when grief and sadness seem so near, how can I stop doubting?
I need you to be my priest. I need you to keep hope when I can’t, and then I need you to know that even in my weakness I will be a priest for you. And what I get from that is not the protection of knowing there is someone a step up from me, but recognition that it’s normal for things to be hard sometimes and now it’s me but maybe later it will be you. I get the revelation that it’s not about some place to stop where things are just as I always wanted them to be, but it’s about walking and keeping on walking until I am home. And the only way I can do that is with you. Maybe it is in the long process of walking that I finally come to approach the mysteries of God, that I begin to see even dimly what it means to have a God who does not often stop death but is able to raise the dead.