Home Forums Noticings… 190612 – When the Unthinkable Happens

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    June 12, 2019

    If you haven’t already heard by now, a terribly heartbreaking, awful, unthinkable thing has happened. One of my colleagues, a minister in the Kingston area, has been charged with multiple counts of internet child luring, and related crimes. He has been suspended pending the outcome of the charges. It’s just unspeakably sad on all accounts. Profound sadness for any alleged victims, for his family, for his church, for us in the wider church. Pastoral care and support is being offered for all involved. A person is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. Regardless of how the case turns out it must be said that such crimes are abhorrent and that the United Church of Canada has clear and explicit policies denouncing such behaviour and outlining a strict process for dealing with such allegations. It’s easy to make assumptions and heap all our disdain on this situation. And while these allegations may be entirely true I have also known persons who were charged and vilified and the charges were entirely baseless. So I proceed with firm denunciation of such acts, even as I try to hold back on condemnation at this time, and I pray that the truth may be known.

    The harsh reality is that all of us have things within us (thoughts, actions, behaviours, habits) that, if brought into the light of day, would be devastating. If you think you do not then you are likely kidding yourself. Just because the United Church generally eschews “sin” language doesn’t mean that we aren’t all sinners. I’m reminded of a favourite song lyric: “Grace keeps giving me things I don’t deserve. Mercy keeps withholding things I do.” I pray that neither you nor I could ever be involved in anything like the crimes alleged above, and could never imagine such depravity. But thinking because one is not “that bad” that one is therefore “all good” is a profound theological error.

    These things are amplified for ministers, because like it or not when we say we are “set aside” or “set apart” for ordered ministry it often comes with a sense that we are “set above”. But we are only human. Profoundly so. We spend our lives speaking and preaching about the holy, but that certainly doesn’t guarantee holiness. It does, however, make things that much more difficult to comprehend when such evil is alleged.

    So how shall we respond? First, we must declare that such behaviours are never acceptable and must be condemned. Next, we must tenderly strive to hold all parties involved in this in prayer – and to that end I will be gathering with many of my colleagues on Wednesday morning (as this Noticings is being sent) for prayer and support. And perhaps most importantly, especially for those of us not directly involved, we might use this terrible event to prayerfully examine our own lives, to let God’s light shine into those darker corners of our own being, to acknowledge our own shortcomings and sinfulness, and to pray for forgiveness and transformation. Two of Jesus’ teachings come to mind: Let those without sin cast the first stone, and remember that whatever the size of the thing in someone else’s eye that there is a log in our own eye that we ought to be focusing on first. So be it.

    Celebration Sunday – Pot Luck

    Our annual end of the Joyful Noise year celebration will happen on June 16th. We will have worship followed by a pot luck lunch! Then it’s on to fun and games outside for the kids – and the big kids too! Join us as we celebrate the year, our wonderful volunteers, and growing together in Faith!
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