As a young minister in my early 20s, I was often admonished by the senior ministers to keep a guarded distance from laypeople. To get too close, they would say, is to become too familiar with a resulting loss of one's ministerial authority. They thought authority was protected by distance and diminished by relationships.
Oh, I think flower gardens are a lovely way to spend one's time. They add a little beauty to our world, and make for a wonderful visiting place for our beleaguered pollinators. I can see the delight in that.
In years and decades to come, we’ll remember the last two weeks. The Emanuel A.M.E. massacre, the sudden shift away from the Confederate flag, the Supreme Court’s reaffirmation of the Affordable Care Act and its extension of same-sex marriage to every state. Last Friday there was an awesome funeral service for Clementa Pinckney, the pastor of Emanuel and one of the victims in the shooting. And all of it while once again black churches have been burning, some under suspicious circumstances.
For all of America’s secularization, actual and expected, each event was resonant with religious significations—and each prompted a wave of public theology.
I often worship and preach in a sanctuary without windows. Renaissance Presbyterian Church is an African-American congregation in Chattanooga, Tennessee. They built the structure, brick upon brick, so that it might withstand bombs, shooting, or burning. Stained glass gave way to safety, so when I stand in the pulpit, I always remember where I am.