Just recently, I've been doing quite a lot of church stuff. And was reminded why I am happier as a Self Supporting Minister. Office bearers moaning about other office bearers being too officious, encroaching on their area of responsibility and uttering the immortal incantation: "I'll speak to the Rector about it". Members of the congregation barneying over disabled parking with others who also drive the disabled to Church. Again the response "We'd better get the Rector to sort it out". Being somewhat free of the structures, I don't have to put up with the expectation of having to sort out the petty squabbles of other wise intelligent and devout adults who ought to be able to sort this keech out without needing the assistance of a priest who is called upon to act like a kindergarten superintendent.
But I've also had to pray for someone who's just been diagnosed with bowel cancer, another who was beaten up by the Israeli police whilst protecting Arab orphans under his care were caught up in a bit of a riot. And stand in for a colleague who got whisked off for a check up when her pulse went all irregular. Give tea to a distressed RC priest who'd had no support from his brethren. Real stuff, not church c**p.
From the first known letter from St Francis of Assisi to all Christians:
"O how happy and blessed are those who love the Lord and do as the Lord himself said in the gospel: You shall love the Lord your God with your whole heart and your whole soul, and your neighbor as yourself. Thereofore, let us love God and adore him with pure heart and mind. This is his particular desire when he says: True worshipers adore the Father in spirit and truth. For all who adore him must do so in the spirit of truth. Let us also direct to him our praises and prayers, saying: "Our Father, who are in heaven," since we must always pray and never grow slack.
Furthermore, let us produce worthy fruits of penance. Let us also love our neightbors as ourselves. Let us have charity and humility. Let us give alms because these cleanse our souls from the stains of sin. Men lose all the material things they leave behind in this world, but they carry with them the reward of their charity and the alms they give. For these they will recieve from the Lord the reward and recompense they deserve. We must not be wise and prudent according to the flesh. Rather we must be sinple, humble and pure. We should never desire to be over others. Instead, we ought to be servants who are submissive to very human being for God's sake. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on all who live in this way and persevere in it to the end. He will permanently dwell in them. They will be the Father's children who do his work. They are the spouses, brothers and mothers of our Lord Jesus Christ.
"Most high, omnipotent, good Lord, grant your people grace gladly to renounce the vanities of this world; that, following the way of blessed Francis, we may for love of you delight in your whole creation with perfect joy; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen."