The Many Good Persons With Whom I Have Served…

…include vocational clergy and laity. For the (much) greater part, they merit the support of all the Church. To be certain, each of them deserves grace, by which I mean kind and compassionate love.

I remember what Churchill wrote about a public leader:

His all pervading hope was to go down to history as the great Peace Maker; and for this he was prepared to strive continually in the face of facts, and face great risks for himself and for his country. Unhappily, he ran into tides the force of which he could not measure, and met hurricanes from which he did not flinch, but with which he could not cope.

   Now, years removed from one poor fellow with whom I served for some time and hearing of his suffering, I remember him in the same way. He wanted to hold office and preened himself for it. He wanted to be the Peacemaker in a time when the other side had decided on total war. He faced, unflinching, the vicissitudes set upon his hopes by unremitting foes and unsteady allies. He was altogether unable, unprepared and in no way competent to hate as the situation required. He was not a warrior, not a statesman, not a great thinker, not a winner. He was the man who heard the call and turned not his face away. For this, he should have the unstinting, if grudging respect, of all who served with him, if not all who opposed him.

   He was a little man, but not small. History was against him, though he never saw it. A crowd could savage him an hour. If they listened for half that time, nay, a quarter, his good heart would tell him the meeting had gone well. He was wrong, deadly wrong, but wanted only for others to be as gregarious as he. He searched for common ground when his opponents were slinging mud.

Churchill would not have thought much of the modern dismantling of the premier public person. He would have said (did say):

      The loyalties which center upon Number One are enormous.IF he trips he must be sustained. If he makes mistakes they must be covered. If he sleeps, he must not wantonly disturbed. If he is no good he must be pole-axed.

   Leadership matters. Those who follow owe grace, including the grace that pole-axes a no-good leader. There must be grace in it all. I hope we will find it one day. I hope that he will feel our grace and, most vitally, the grace of God.

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