I told a story in church one Sunday. It was not just my story; it was a shared story from my family that had only been told quietly for a long time. Maybe it was a confession. After telling it I felt spent, as if something powerful had moved through me.
To be a storyteller is like having an electric current move through your body.
One of the most dangerous effects of physical trauma is internal bleeding. It is insidious because it is often invisible, at least initially; internal organs can be gravely damaged with little or no outside evidence. The victim can walk, talk, and interact often to the point of seeming fine. Meanwhile, the body suffers, and once the damage is discovered, it can be irreparable.
Recently I had the opportunity to talk about Christian call and vocation with an adult education class. Normally I have this conversation with 17-21 year old people, but last weekend the crowd was a bit older, closer to retirement age. I asked them to think about what society had told them about vocation, what the church had told them and what their experience of vocation had been.
The interesting thing this group said was that often vocation only became clear in retrospect.
What should clergy do when asked to offer public prayers at various events? My colleagues tend to have strong opinions on opposite sides of this question. Some feel that they are being used—or that it is part of an old Christendom model of being church to offer invocations and benedictions at public gatherings. Others feel it is a time to proselytize; so they will only pray if they can do so in the name of Jesus.
For my own part, whenever I can accept such invitations I say yes.
Earlier this year I attended an ordination service for a good friend. During the course of that worship service she went from being a faithful lay member of the United Church of Christ to an ordained UCC minister.
Like the disciples, I often have no idea how to pray. I don’t know what to ask for, I don’t know how long to keep asking, I don’t know if I am doing it right, I don’t know how it all really works. That doesn’t sound very pastoral, I know. What can I say? I suppose I am, at least, in decent (or at least populous) company when I say that prayer is often very hard for me.
What does one do, after all, with the sheer weight of sadness and longing and confusion that so many must carry?
I was wandering the halls of my son's school one weekend as I awaited what was to be the first in a series of performances by my teens. The little guy . . . not so little, at 13 . . . had managed to snag the lead role in his eighth grade play, a Roman comedy by Plautus. Actually rather funny, as it turned out, and he did a great job with it.
I’m meeting this week with The Well, my yearly cohort group. I laugh more during this week of “preacher camp” than I do any other week of the year. This year has been heavier than normal, with several concerns for friends, loved ones, and ourselves. This has made the mirth all the more necessary and sweet.
Many colleagues have wished for their own preacher camp.