When we work with others or with ourselves, we cannot let the diagnosis define us, as humans. We need to resist the temptation to identify one another by our sickness or defects--even though the act gives us a certain power over one another. Looking beyond the label to the context forces us to think theologically about people.
“You have to grow tougher skin, Carol,” my colleague told me when I invited him to lunch and asked for his advice on a church matter. I inhaled deeply. That was the same response I heard repeatedly for the first ten years of my pastorate. Whenever I got frustrated, well-meaning friends and colleagues would tell me that I needed to miraculously grow some sort of Teflon epidermis.
Roberta insisted that although her first husband had abused her, Hank had never hit her. Neither Ian nor Abigail believed these assurances.
Salvation requires repentance. But of what do the righteous repent?
After 48 years as a minister of word and sacrament, I will retire at the end of January.
Can I be a minister for others, many students wonder, if my own beliefs are in flux?
When I became a student pastor I had no idea what I was getting into. The first thing that happened after we moved into the tiny parsonage was that Johnny Johnson died.
As pastors, we spend a great deal of time sharing in the ongoing lives and adventures of our congregants and community members. We are also called, literally, to come to love and suffer with them when disappointments, disasters or deaths occur.
She is foggy, struggling to find the old gifts of conversation. But she knows me, I think. I tell her all of the reassuring things that pastors say in such a setting. "The Creator who has watched over you all of the days of your life is now holding you in those sacred hands." She smiles and struggles to respond with words I barely understand.