United Church of Christ

Between Us

"'My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,' says the Lord." - Isaiah 55:8

I am often corrected by others. They will proclaim an alternative to my point of view, sometimes with a vengeance and other times with a wink. The vengeful ones are the ones who want to be right more than they want to connect with me. Those who wink are offering a multi-verse instead of a uni-verse. They are making a bid to be with me as long as they can be with themselves as well.

What was the tone of voice when God made this great boundary statement through Isaiah? Boundary statements clarify who is who and what is what.

"Boundaries" have become a required course for clergy—to make sure we don't harm people by misusing our sexual or spiritual power and to make sure we don't overdo ourselves. Boundary courses have improved to include what clergy do on social media as well as what we do "in real life." Sometimes preachers criticize parishioners sermonically with vengeance more than winking; judgment can be a boundary violation too. Being boring when you get 15 minutes of someone's time is likewise a misuse of power, but that is another subject.

Between the boundaries, between our thoughts and our ways, between us, there can be appropriate intimacy without overstepping.

Was there a wink or a complaint in the tone of the almighty when ways were distinguished? I wish I knew. I'm betting a bit of both.

Prayer

Teach us, Holy Spirit, how to give and how to receive criticism. Keep a wink in our eye and a bid in our voice. Let us connect, with a loving well-bounded God. Amen.

ddauthordonnaschaper.jpgAbout the Author
Donna Schaper is Senior Minister at Judson Memorial Church in New York City. Her most recent book is I Heart Frances: Letters to the Pope from an Unlikely Admirer.

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