Lent is an ideal time to wrestle with betrayals. Lent’s essence is the seeking after significant quantities of mercy. Since betrayal happens to us all, and often yields a wickedly immense level of hurt and pain, again Lent is a good context for sorting out these raw emotions.
The most painful betrayal in my life ironically, was the result of returning to be the Lead Pastor at my home church. I was baptized there, confirmed, interned, was ordained, and installed. I not only had deep roots with this church, but my devotion to it was thick and ever so strong.
Within the first month, I knew I had made a major mistake. If I was called, it was collect. Though my official title was as Lead Pastor, it would be leadership which would arouse the most passionate resistance.
Soon I was being told I was not Lutheran enough, nor traditional enough, and that I was too interpretive of Scripture. I fully claim to all three, but what shocked me most was the nastiness of these attacks. Love and forgiveness, the very core of our faith, was missing in action.
There were no face to face meetings, no effort to reach a compromise. There was no Grace or forgiveness offered. Closure was simply demanding I disappear.
I still feel betrayed, and I am sure some of the congregants do as well. However, the greatest betrayal was rooted in the abandonment of the mercy Christ championed. My soul now carries a deep and purple scar.
Had we practiced Lent, we would have sat down together, been honest and open, and tried to establish some common ground. Since Lent is always moving in the direction of Easter, we would have called ourselves to clarity, compromise, and if a good-bye, then a gracious and generous one.
Betrayals are damaging, and on the whole, most of the time unnecessary. Following a Jesus who asks us to love our enemies and turn the other cheek, we are reminded incessantly of the foolishness of betrayal – especially when it is claimed to be inspired by an oh so correct faith.
O, Lord of Lent, allow Lent to be the room in which we address matters of betrayal. Not only did betrayal enable Christ to be killed, it has destroyed many a pastor and congregation as well. Let us be wise. Let us be merciful and mature. Let us embrace one another if we must say good-bye. Amen.
Reverend William R. Grimbol has spent the past 30+ years helping people create and develop strong spiritual connections with loved ones and God. He is also a published author, with over a dozen books to his credit.