Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Positive Accountability

Well God, as you know, I've been trying to prepare myself to lead a Methodist Covenant service this weekend: not an easy task for someone who takes accountability seriously.
It's an odd thing but so many people seem to have forgotten how to hold themselves accountable to you without wallowing in either self-pity or self-loathing. Accountability seems bizarrely to be associated with 'miserable sinner' status.
I can't believe that was ever what you wanted - was it God?
You invite me to be accountable to you for the state of our relationship - that's a positive thing isn't it? You expect me to share being accountable for the joy we both find in our relationship, for the good that it does and the way that it enables me to grow. Why would that make me miserable?

Maybe I'm wrong, but I've always found our chats quite intimate and reassuring, even when they are uncomfortable. They are a chance to reflect and maybe regret, but also a chance to acknowledge how important you are to me and how vital your grace is to my life. After all, here you are, still listening, still holding on to me, still nudging me, challenging me, exasperatingly so sometimes, but always lovingly.
The bottom line is that the more I reflect on it God the more conscious I am of your part in my life.
Yes.. the poverty of my worship does shame me, my failure to love my neighbour distresses me, and the failure to love myself is something that, as you know only too well, I regret deeply. I deeply wish I could live up to my own, leave alone your expectations of me. But I don't feel the need to 'confess' these things to you so that you take them from me as my failures or so that I can avoid or justify you punishing me (I don't think you've ever done THAT!)
No, I share them with you because only you seem to share or even understand my desire to be a better person, and only you seem to be able to provide me with the means and the grace to be so.

Isn't confession simply a way of sharing my sometimes broken hopes and dreams about who I am and a way of acknowledging my need for your help in fixing them...?

But how, God, can I lead others to that same place of positive accountability?

How to help others hold the tension between being accountable, and yet NOT falling into either the slough of despond or the pit of despair?
"with JOY we offer ourselves anew to you"

The words are certainly powerful God - don't you think?

Eternal God,
in your faithful and enduring love
you call us to share in your gracious covenant in Jesus Christ.
In obedience we hear and accept your commands;
in love we seek to do your perfect will;
with joy we offer ourselves anew to you.
We are no longer our own but yours.

I am no longer my own but yours.
Put me to what you will,
rank me with whom you will;
put me to doing,
put me to suffering;
let me be employed for you
or laid aside for you,
exalted for you
or brought low for you;
let me be full,
let me be empty,
let me have all things,
let me have nothing;
I freely and wholeheartedly
yield all things to your pleasure and disposal.

And now, glorious and blessed God,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
you are mine and I am yours.
So be it.
And the covenant now made on earth,
let it be ratified in heaven. Amen.

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