Fall from Grace
"The accusations that have been leveled against me are not all true, but enough of them are true that I have been appropriately and lovingly removed from ministry. I am so embarrassed and ashamed. I caused this and I have no excuse. I am a sinner. I have fallen."The letter to the congregation also asked the members of the church to forgive that man who had come forward with the charges,
"He is revealing the deception and sensuality that was in my life. Those sins, and others, need to be dealt with harshly. So forgive him, and actually, thank God for him."Haggard says that he has fallen and he has. But the wonderful thing we find in scripture is that in falling from grace, we find ourselves landing in grace. Adam and Eve were cast out of the Garden of Eden, but God made them clothes and gave them a place to settle and then began the long project of bringing humanity back to the garden.
The pastor's letter to his congregation reminds me of the fairly recent sermon The Hypocrite and the Septic Tank in which I spoke of the masks we wear both good and bad. Haggard wore a mask to cover what he called "repulsive and dark" within himself. He could not have been at peace about his life, with such a war being waged.
Yet, I have no reason to believe that Jesus wants to condemn this man and neither do I. What he needs is healing that will bring his body, mind and spirit into synch. Haggard has been given the painful gift of having what he wanted to keep hidden brough to light. I pray that he and his family and congregation are better for it and that all will find grace even in a fall from grace.
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor + King of Peace Episcopal Church