My friend Tony Robinson, author, speaker, preacher, and peripatetic traveler for the good of the church, is an acute observer of what is going on in our world.
I heartily recommend his website Anthony B. Robinson, and especially the page called “What’s Tony Thinking?” A few days ago he posted some good thoughts from Peggy Noonan on the Roman Catholic clergy sex abuse story. He wrote:
“I am becoming a fan of Peggy Noonan’s Saturday columns in the Wall Street Journal. This week she wrote on the Catholic clergy sex abuse troubles concluding by saying, “There are three great groups of victims in this story. The first and most obvious, the children who were abused, who trusted, were preyed upon and bear the burden through life. The second group is the good priests and good nuns, the great leaders of the church in the day to day, who save the poor, teach the immigrant, and literally, save lives. They have been stigmatized when they deserve to be lionized. And the third group is the Catholics in the pews–the heroic Catholics of America and now Europe, the hardy souls who in spite of what has been done to their church are still there, still making parish life possible, who hold high the flag, their faith unshaken. No one thanks those Catholics, sees their heroism, respects their patience and fidelity. The world thinks they are stupid. They are not stupid, and with their prayers they keep the world going, and the old church too.
One might say the same of many “heroic laypeople” in all sorts of congregations and communities of faith amid failures of leadership and scandals and disarray among higher ups. So many good people keep on keeping on in the face of disappointment, deceit and challenge. They are the witnesses to the resurrection.”
That last observation is a particularly wise one, I think. I can remember sometimes looking out at the congregations I have served after a particularly nasty fight over something ephemeral and wondering, “Why do they even bother to come back every Sunday? There must be more here than meets the eye.” And, of course, the answer is that there is!
As somebody once said about Noah’s ark: “If it wasn’t for the storm outside, one couldn’t stand the stench inside.” Still, Tony is just right. These faithful are living witnesses to the resurrection.