The Clergy and the Community

A reading for Wednesday, December 11, 2013: Matthew 23:1-12

There was a time in American culture when clergy was one of the most respected professions in the community.  Pastors (and even Rabbis in some places) were named to serve on the bank board, the planning commission and the city council.  Those were the days when most clergy members, even protestant ministers, often wore clergy collars as a visible symbol of the church in the midst of society.  Much has changed in the way society sees clergy and even the way members of the clergy, like myself, see ourselves.

Perhaps it was that way also in the ancient world when Jesus taught those that gathered.  The influence that the priests and the rabbis once had was diminishing.  At one time they were the leaders of the tribes of Israel.  The influence of Roman occupiers changed the way the people listened.  Religious leaders had no real power over against armies and Caesars.  In the mist of such developments, perhaps those in religious leadership were acting out.  They were holding on to the ceremonial power they once claimed, but were seen by Jesus and others as hypocrites who said one thing and did something else.  Jesus told his followers to listen to the teachings of Moses as God's ways, but not to look to the example of such leaders who were struggling to be faithful.

There is wisdom for both clergy and those who claim the church as their community here.  As clergy, we must check our own papers to see if we are approaching our role in the church and in society with the humility and service that Jesus would require.  Ours is a serving profession and not simply a self-serving one.  The truth is there are too many members of the clergy who use their position of influence to make a name for themselves, rather than proclaiming the name of Jesus above their own.

For the church, it's important to see our clergy in the important role they serve.  These are men and women who could make more money and perhaps even have more influence in a secular profession.  Yet they choose to serve the church in faith and practice.  These are the ones afforded the education and the time to go to the scriptures and to bring a Word back to us and to our community.  At least in the church, we can honor the relationship between the clergy and the community.

Jesus said those that exalt themselves will be humbled and those that humble themselves will be exalted.  May the name of Jesus be exalted above all others.


Popular Posts