If there is anywhere a basic job description for ministry, this seems to be it. And it is the job description for any Christian. The key, of course, is the final sentence, "to prefer nothing to the love of Christ." If one does that, the rest should follow
In many congregations there seems to be another purpose. Some congregations so value their building that they loose sight of what was hopefully their founders purpose. The phrase, "we'll keep the doors open because the building is so beautiful," or some similar motto is heard. And it's easy to see how the building becomes important. Generations of weddings, burials, Baptisms, and Communion make the space holy ground. Unfortunately some congregations place the holy space over the One who makes the space holy. They become, in essence, a building management society.
The congregation where my wife worships, and where I worship when I'm not working, faced that dilemma. They, and a neighboring congregation merged, sold their buildings, and now worship in a train station. Their purpose is mission and not owning a space. Leaving the old spaces was difficult for them. Some people didn't come along. But the congregation is slowly growing. You can find out more about them at www.fpcchicago.org.
Some congregations are burial societies. We'll stay open until their parents, or themselves, are buried. Other congregations are simply societies. Their relationships bind them. Occasionally I've found a congregation whose purpose was to not associate with those "other people.? And there are other congregations whose purpose I've never been able to fathom.
Pastors often are the root of these congregations problems. One congregation I where I worked had a pastor who formed boys and girls clubs in the town. He turned out to be a sexual predator. It's no wonder that people don't walk through he door. Others have pastors who actually believe they are God and that anyone who doesn't obey his commands are satanic. And yes, I followed that pastor. I could go on with examples endlessly but take it from me, we're quite often the one who's guilty.
The Rule of St. Benedict is one of the best guides to follow if one does want to prefer nothing to Christ's love. The book is not considered to be sacred text and it has never been followed literally. But it is a good basic guide to the sinner, like me, who wants to work toward the goal of holiness in Christ. As a Presbyterian, I don't think holiness can be reached, but one can make a good effort toward it. And it is possible to prefer nothing to Christ's love. It isn't easy and one will fall and get up again frequently on the way, But it is possible.
Thank you Father Benedict, for reminding us of this goal.
Brother Oscar Romero