A week of signs

The first seven days of a pastor

In his memoir Open Secrets, Richard Lischer tells of his search for a pastoral vocation in “New Cana,” a small town in southern Illinois. When he reconnoitered the site of his first call, the bleached November landscape reminded him of an Ingmar Bergman movie—“Swedish winterlight exposing rot and depression in rural Lutherans.” He was fresh from graduate school, a child of the ’60s who had “skimmed Augustine’s City of God but devoured Harvey Cox’s best-seller The Secular City.” Two minutes on the lonely road in New Cana proved to be a “clarifying experience. The spiritual heroics of the secular city had passed me by.” Open Secrets is the story of how, as Lischer puts it, “I apprenticed myself to a community, and this odd little warren of friendships, stories, rivalries and rumors turned out to be my ministry itself.”

 

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