My Dad was a pastor. He began his ministry in the early 50’s, when mainline churches were growing like weeds and a clerical collar would elicit a discount at the local department store and a complementary membership in the country club.
Not so for my son, who has also worked a pastor. He paid full price for his coffee at Starbucks, where he led discussions with Millennials who wouldn’t dream of darkening the door of his grandfather’s church.
My dad was a pastor. After serving in World War II, he went to college on the G.I. Bill and then on to seminary. Like other mainline denominations, the Presbyterian Church was in full growth mode back then, and clergy ranked high in polls among the nation’s most trusted and respected professionals.
One day a few years ago, when I realized that my hair was falling out from chemotherapy treatment, I leaned against a wall and sobbed, “This is too much.” In the silence I heard, “Where does my strength come from?” and I heard myself answer, “From the Lord . . . but this is too much!”
Preachers who glance at this Gospel lesson and contemplate the delights
of contracting swine flu just before Sunday could be forgiven, but a
second look reveals an opportunity to teach about Christian community
and behaviors that imperil it.