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Faith United Methodist Church
Faith United Methodist Church
Sleepy Eye, Minnesota 
Gerhardt Miller, Pastor
July 28, 2022

Dear Members and Friends of Faith United Methodist Church:

 I am nearly finished painting a portrait of my son, Hans. It seems to me that the portrait is 
not bad. Hans says that the portrait is “great.” (Please note, I do not use that word to describe 
that painting or any other art that I have ever attempted.) I suppose that the portrait is a decent 
likeness of the subject, and that is generally desirable in portraiture.
 The renowned artist Will Wilson taught me that representational art involves a continual 
process of adjustment and correction. From beginning to end, almost all artistic endeavors 
involve making changes to the object. In other words, there is almost always “room for 
improvement” throughout the process.
 When I look upon the paintings I have already signed, varnished, framed, exhibited, and 
sold, I usually see something in each of those works that I feel is not quite right—something 
should have been further adjusted. Perhaps it is the intensity of the background, or the color of 
the shadows, or the detail of the face. At the time I signed and varnished each of the paintings, 
I was more pleased with them then than I am now. With the passing of time, I see my previous 
artistic efforts as far less than perfect.
 Imperfection in any human endeavor is natural: painting a portrait, writing an essay, 
preaching a sermon, singing a song, repairing a cabinet, planting a field, playing a game, or 
having a vacation. Even though we might try to achieve perfection, it almost never (if ever!) 
happens as we hope. 
 I recognize that my paintings, and my sermons, and my essays, are not perfect, but that 
does not mean that I should stop painting, preaching, and writing. I know that all of these 
fruits of my labor are less than perfect—like me. Despite all of this falling short, I hope to 
keep trying. I want to live, work, and worship, in the hope that I can try my best with what 
God has given me. Although I do not have everything needed to achieve perfection in 
anything, God has blessed me abundantly. So, I hope that I have the insight to do the best I 
can with limited education, talent, resources, and time. 
 It matters that we try to be our best selves—adjusting and correcting—even if our best 
will never be perfect. Being our best is living gratefully, joyfully, and lovingly. We will not 
always be perfectly patient, or kind, or diligent, or hopeful. We are not perfect. Sooner or 
later, we will be impatient, selfish, distracted, or doubtful—but we can try to be better. 
 Let us be grateful to God that we are works in progress. That means that God has blessed 
us with this moment to be our best selves—becoming more patient, kind, focused, and hopeful. 
Works in progress. We can become our best selves yet. Thank you, Lord.

In the hope of God’s redeeming grace, Gerhardt