In the vision his fellow clergy were sitting around a table, passing around a huge mason jar. Everybody was stuffing the jar with cash. When the jar was full, somebody took it and started squirting lighter fluid into it. Then, they set it on fire. Everybody watched the cash burn.
The priest who told me about it was horrified: You're burning the money! This is a waste! This is sinful!
His interpretation: The clergy gatherings were a complete waste of time and energy. From that day, he stopped going.
I was thinking of his vision at the Tokyo diocesan synod today. Over a hundred clergy and lay people together from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. And what did we accomplish that will have any meaningful impact on anyone's life? Hmm...
The highlight of the day for me was the opening prayer, which includes these words:
Increase the numbers of those who believe in Thee, heal those who are troubled in mind or body, bless the children, restore those who have fallen into evil and turn them toward the good, bring back those who have wandered far from Thee, forgive those who repent, and grant that all who live in this land may share in your salvation.The rest of the day had absolutely nothing to do with any of those things. Instead, we rearranged deck chairs on the Titanic. Hearing reports from a dozen committees. Changing the way the diocesan tax (I mean, assessment) is calculated. Drawing down more funds to cover expenses.
The last order of business was a resolution to send the Government some Statement about getting rid of nuclear power plants. I never speak at these meetings, but I stood up to speak against this resolution--because the drafters didn't manage to craft the actual language we were supposed to send.
I don't know whether the government should abandon nuclear energy. I do know neither the government nor anyone else in Japan will give a flying fig about what the Tokyo Diocese of the Nippon Sei Ko Kai has to say about it.
We represent less than 5,000 people in a country of 120 million. We should be worried about growing in holiness, proclaiming the Gospel, loving our neighbors--you know, living as Christians.
Not sending out meaningless statements on diocesan letterhead. And not wasting a whole day focusing on nothing of substance.