Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Gathered Church

My vision of the gathered church that had come to me after I became the janitor had been
replaced by a vision of the gathered community. What I saw now was the
community imperfect and irresolute but held together by the frayed and always
fraying, incomplete and yet ever-holding bonds of the various sorts of affection.
There had maybe never been anybody who had not been loved by somebody, who had
been loved by somebody else, and so on and on…. It was a community always
disappointed in itself, disappointing its members, always trying to contain its
divisions and gentle its meanness, always failing and yet always preserving a
sort of will toward goodwill. I knew that, in the midst of all the ignorance
and error, this was a membership; it was the membership of Port William and of
no other place on earth. My vision gathered the community as it never has been
and never will be gathered in this world of time, for the community must always
be marred by members who are indifferent to it or against it, who are
nonetheless its members and maybe nonetheless essential to it. And yet I saw
then all as some how perfected, beyond time, by one another’s love, compassion,
and forgiveness, as it is said we may be perfected by grace. -- Wendell Berry

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