“A funny thing happened to me on the way to the pulpit today” is as familiar a remark in some churches as “It was a quiet week in Lake Wobegon” is on Saturday radio. Take the recent seminary graduate who comes to her first parish. Sermon after sermon includes a story about a seminary classmate, or about the place where she used to live or about how her wedding plans remind her of something in the epistle. Is there anything wrong with sharing one's life and experiences from the pulpit?
If church leaders had the chance to fashion a seminary from scratch, what would it look like? Would it have its own campus? Would it be tied to a denomination or be fully ecumenical? Would the classical academic subjects be taught and, if so, how would that learning be correlated with the work of forming spiritual leaders and training them in the practice of ministry?
The day after Christmas holds many possibilities for pastors, most of them involving the word rest. I do not typically book office hours on this day. Four years ago proved to be an exception. Bob and Linda called on Christmas Day, requesting an appointment.
Seminaries generally do a fine job of educating the minds of people who are called into ministry. But how well do they form the hearts and spirits of those people? Do seminaries build leaders who are servants of Christ?
Recently I spent a week on retreat with my book club. It’s a smart
and kind and diverse group of people. But one of the greatest pleasures
of their company is that only two members are Christian—and very
different Christians in terms of theology and tradition. One woman, a
psychologist, laughs out loud because she can’t believe that she has a
friend who is a pastor.
The American Catholic bishops support President Obama’s intention to take executive action on immigration. “It would be derelict not to support the administrative actions . . . which would provide immigrants and their families legal protection,” said Eusebio Elizondo, chairman of the U.S. Catholic Committee on Migration. In the past the bishops have been critical of the president on gay marriage and the contraception mandate of the Affordable Care Act. Now they are under pressure to follow Pope Francis’s lead in making social justice issues a priority (RNS).