On Sunday I spoke at our Kairos Hollywood weekly gathering. It was the fifth Sunday in Lent, and I reflected on Jeremiah 31:31-34 and failure: my own failure in keeping this year’s Lenten fast, the Israelite community’s failure to love God and neighbor as intended, and our continued failures to live together in community for the sake of our city as God’s children.
It’s freeing as a pastor, but mainly as a person, to be in a community where failure is a broachable subject. Where I can stand up front in front of our community not as an expert in perfect living, not as a model for the truly blessed life, nor as a sage with answers to every question that might arise – but as myself. People have expectations of me, and I have expectations of myself, but they are not so vastly different from the expectations I have of others.
We share leadership in our community, and we also share the burden of accountability. Today, I had lunch with my three co-pastors. Three people I’ve worked with, led with, struggled with and against, and spent countless hours in conversation. But also countless hours in prayer and seeking God’s guidance for our community. These are people I love and respect and am grateful to serve alongside.
With this shared burden of leadership, together seeking God’s will and shalom for our city, it’s okay to recognize areas of failure in my life. It’s okay to be a failure. The patriarchs of Israel were failures. The community of Israel failed time and time again. The disciples failed even at moments that seemed so desperately crucial. The spiritual family of Christianity has an extensive family tree riddled with failures.
And it’s okay. It really is. Because, as I shared with our community on Sunday:
In the midst of failure, in the midst of death, this is the word of God proclaimed to a broken people – “the days are coming and I will make a new covenant.” A situation that seems hopeless ceases to be hopeless because of this new reality breaking in.
Even in the midst of death there is hope and there is life.