Completely Irrelevant

I have recently started a new professional development program with the support of the congregation and Council here at Athens CRC. The program is through
Arrow Leadership. I’m really excited about learning and growing more as a Christ-follower, husband, father, and pastor. One of my initial assignments is to read (or rather re-read for me) the book In the Name of Jesus
, by Henri Nouwen. The first chapter in this book is entitled “From Relevance to Prayer”. In this chapter Henri goes through the temptation to be “relevant” and the call instead to be a person of prayer and reliance on God alone.
Interestingly, at this same time I have been struggling a bit with a resurgence of my own struggle with depression. Don’t worry–I’m doing all right, and God is by rock. He is taking care of me; as is my wife and the loving community of Athens. I’ll be alright.
While I’m sitting here at my desk with my “happy light” shining on me and giving me a needed boost of artificial sunlight, and while the snow is starting to fall outside, and while I’m starting to read 
In the Name of Jesus again, and while I’m listening to Steve Bell sing “About Love” from his album Kindness
, and while I’m contemplating the sermon for this week from my good friend Chris Fluit, entitled “Cast All Your Cares on God” I am seeing it all converge in a message for me: “Don’t worry,” God says, “Give all your cares to me. I will care for you.”
Henri Nouwen, in this little book of his says about the start of his time in the L’Arche community for mentally and physically disabled people, ,
I was suddenly faced with my naked self, open for affirmations and rejections, hugs and punches, smiles and tears, all dependent simply on how I was perceived at the moment. In a way, it seemed as though I was starting my life all over again. Relationships, connections, reputations could no longer be counted on.
This experience was and, in many ways, is still the most important experience of my new life, because it forced me to rediscover my true identity. These broken, wounded and completely unpretentious people forced me to let go of my relevant self–the self that can do things, show things, prove things, build things–and forced me to reclaim that unadorned self in which I am completely vulnerable, open to receive and give love regardless of any accomplishments.
I am telling you all this because I am deeply convinced that the Christian leader of the future is called to be completely irrelevant and to stand in this world with nothing to offer but his or her own vulnerable self. That is the way Jesus came to reveal God’s love. The great message that we have to carry, as ministers of God’s Word and followers of Jesus, is that God loves us not because of what we do or accomplish, but because God has created and redeemed us in love and has chosen us to proclaim that love as the true source of all human life. (pp. 29-30, “In the Name of Jesus” by Henri Nouwen–emphasis added).
This fits very much with what I was hearing from Steve Bell as I started to read today:
It’s not about science
Or benefits the dead contest
But there’s some strange reliance yet
On particles to fix the mess

Who knows if this thing we call life
Looks fine in another one’s eyes
Or bellies up with the goods
Everyone can approve of

One thing that i’ve learned in my time
You can’t win if you have to draw lines
When it comes to the struggle
To show and to prove love

Oh – it’s always been about love

It’s not about borders
Borders have their place no doubt
But who gives the orders

To abandon hope for common ground
It’s not about anything else, really. It’s always been about love–God’s love for us, and our grateful love for Him and each other in return. The more that you and I can let go of our relevance, our accomplishments, our ambition, our pride–the more we can live in the fullness of His love alone.
That is my prayer for today: to live in His love alone for this moment,…this moment,…and this moment,… etc…