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Copied here with ALMOST NO EDITING. I preserved the messages (except for identities) as closely as I can.
Walking out of work and the end of my shift, I open my phone and find a text message which begins the following exchange(s).
Here is the text message exchange:
March 8, 5:58pm From [Prof. Erudite] to [Agent X].
[Agent X], this is [Prof. Erudite]. It was good to see your dad at [Premier Homeless Pseudo Church (not its real name)] last Sunday.
Would you be able to meet with [Premier Homeless Pseudo Church]’s Board folks tomorrow at 1:00 at the building? We have talked about some of your concerns and think it is a good idea to discuss them with you.
I’m sorry for the late notice. I had been leaving voice mails at the wrong number for over a week. I just got it sorted out today. Let me know, please, whether you can make it.
March 8, 9:01pm [Agent X] to [Prof. Erudite]
[Prof. Erudite], I wonder if I should expect a fruitful meeting. We have yet to hold one that is fruitful for me, and leaves me wondering whether the board wants rid of me. I am working this weekend and am not available anyway. Perhaps some indication whether I stand to gain or not is in order at this point too.
I hold you guys in prayer frequently. I pray God be honored and that he move powerfully in our assembly. I am sure you can join in that prayer. I invite you to join me in prayer and waiting on God’s response.
March 8, 10:06pm [Prof. Erudite] to [Agent X]
[Agent X], yes, we will join you in the prayer you mention. The sixth century monk Dorotheos likened the relationship between God and people like a wheel hub and its spokes. As the spokes (people) moved closer to the hub (God), they necessarily moved closer to one another and vice versa. The board wishes to draw closer to you, not to be rid of you. As we do this, there is mutual gain for all of us toward one another and toward God. I cannot help but believe that such an increase in mutuality is one positive answer to the prayer we shall join you in.
As we wait for God’s response together, could you suggest times when your schedule would permit getting together?
Peace and all good to us all.
March 9, 7:27am [Agent X] to [Prof. Erudite]
I plan, weather permitting, to camp out Monday night on the streets. Perhaps your board of directors could meet with my bored and directed? I am not kidding. We could meet at about 8:30ish where James n May sleep behind [Premier Homeless Pseudo]’s Kitchen or in memorial park. If its too cold you can join me and guests at my house… let me know. I’m gone to work at hospital now…
March 10, 6:58pm [Prof. Erudite] to [Agent X]
[Agent X], I have passed on your invitation to the board members. However, I’m unclear whether yours is a counter-invitation to our desire to talk with you.
We desire a private discussion. Would you be available one evening this week to meet privately? Our purpose is, as I wrote earlier, to increase our mutual concern for one another in a way that promotes clarity.
Our hearts are open to you, [Agent X]. What evening this week works for you?
March 10, 9:33 pm [Agent X] to [Prof. Erudite]
I really was not kidding about inviting you to join us on the streets tonite. I wonder why you declined… hmmm… Surely communion with our flock promotes mutuality… I have met privately with the board twice. I certainly found no mutuality in that. I have no interest in more of it. I will decline your invitation too.
March 11, 12:28 am [Prof. Erudite] to [Agent X]
[Agent X], forgive me: I am confused by your response. I said I was unclear how you wished me to understand your invitation vis-à-vis ours to you. I did what I could and sent yours on. Surely, you didn’t want me to demand or use guilt to manipulate board members to join you, did you? This is not the way of our Lord to his friends.
In truth, [Agent X], texting is quite an unreliable way to express ourselves clearly and, perhaps, with charity. For instance, I briefly considered whether your question about why I declined to meet with you and others came from your genuine concern for me or whether you were – – forgive the uncharitable thought! – – imitating the condescending, judgmental “hmmm?” of Dana Carvey’s SNL character, the Church Lady.
I admit this to my shame. My recollection of your longstanding practice of sharing the body and blood of The Lord with those whom you would embrace in love quickly dispelled that notion.
You say you did not experience mutuality the two times we met recently. I am so sorry. Did we not solemnly begin our meeting sharing the Lord’s body and blood first? I truly extended my heart to you both times; I had no desire to participate just to avoid an awkward refusal or for a crass show. I would rather not eat and drink judgment upon myself.
[Agent X], our hearts are open to you. We desire to meet with you privately. Moreover, I deeply desire that we approach one another in love. To be honest, your response reminded me way too quickly of the serious warning in 1 Cor 13:3. I shall pray that Paul’s description not lay truthful claim on any of us.
May the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ immeasurably bless your faithful effort for his name’s sake.
March 11, 7:31 am [Agent X] to [Prof. Erudite]
Let me be brief but clear: I am done with private board meetings. I am not here discussing why. On the other hand, I am inviting you to worship with many from our flock (and others) out on the streets. In fact more than “being open” to it… you are wanted there. Hope that is clear.
March 11, 10:51 am [Prof. Erudite] to [Agent X]
[Agent X], our hearts are still open to you. Our desire to speak with you in an environment where we can attend carefully and fully to our discussion remains.
We hear your persistent invitation. Rest assured, we are attending to our calls from God in this area to the best of our abilities. We pray that you follow God’s voice in your ministry as well.
We also ask, for your sake and ours, that [you*] join us in following God’s word from Romans 14:4-12.
Peace and all good to you. [Prof. Erudite].
* the word “you” was missing in the original. I figure [Prof. Erudite] was texting me on a phone and accidentally omitted it. I supply it here assuming (safely enough, I think) that he meant it there.
March 12, 10:49am [Prof. Erudite] to [Agent X]
[Agent X], our hearts are open to you. The board asked you three times, in good faith, to meet privately. We wanted to share our concerns about your words and actions that we perceive as divisive. We wanted to provide you an opportunity to explain why we are mistaken. Multiple times, we appealed to you to extend blessing to us in the efforts we believe our Master directs us – – just as we prayed our Master’s blessing upon your efforts. But you did not. We asked you to meet with us; you demanded we come to you. We blessed your commitments; you questioned ours.
We on the [Premier Homeless Pseudo Church]’s Leadership team – all 10 board members and all 5 ministry team members – wanted to avoid a rift with you over our different ministry callings. Our hearts are genuinely open to you. But we oppose your efforts to create a “prophets” faction among our members, to encourage brothers and sisters to condemn sisters and brothers over matters of perceived calling, and to backbite at the [Premier Homeless Pseudo Church]’s board and ministry team. Your actions, words, and attitudes toward some of your brothers and sisters at [Premier Homeless Pseudo Church] are not from Christ. These destroy the unity we share at the Table. For your sake and those you influence, we entreat you: discern the Body carefully.
The [Premier Homeless Pseudo Church]’s Leadership team requests that you avoid all activity on the [Premier Homeless Pseudo Church]’s property immediately, including Sundays. This request will remain until you meet privately with the [Premier Homeless Pseudo Church] Leadership team to resolve this situation in a way that restores unity of the Spirit and the bond of peace between us. How quickly this happens depends on you.
May our Master continue to bless your every faithful effort in His Name – truly.
[Prof. Erudite], for the [Premier Homeless Pseudo Church]’s Leadership