I’ve recently begun practicing something new when my family gathers together at the dinner table – yep, we still use the dinner table! This practice, however, is something contrary to the so-called “old, traditional male thingy,” but I’m confident I’m doing the right thing. For some this idea may seem novel, for others you may already be doing this whether you realize it or not. But it’s something I’ve intentionally sought to practice.
When I came out of Seminary I was a staunch liturgical dude. Don’t need no screens or even printed out service. The organ will do just fine. I got myself some incense and added a chasuble to my fine wardrobe. I wore my collar almost every day.
Diving into the great sea of knowledge, I am drowning. Wave after wave of fact and fiction, feeling and experience crash over my head as I fight just to take a breath. Pummeling pressure keeps my eyes just below the surface, so that I can’t quite see clearly. Swell after swell, small and distant, grows deeper and more powerful the closer it gets to me. Endless fathoms of knowledge washing in and out, burying me deep below understanding.
When I became a pastor, one of the questions asked of me in the ordination rite was if, “I would minister faithfully to the sick and dying, and demonstrate to the Church a constant and ready ministry of the Gospel?” To which I answered, “Yes, I will, with the help of God.” This meant my call as a pastor was not to stay within the walls of the church or to remain in my study, but it was, in part, to go to the sick and dying, go to those who could not come to church on their own, to those who needed the gifts of Christ brought to them.
Watching awards shows is all about having the right expectations going in: you know already that it’s going to be an orgy of self-congratulation. You know that people are going to use their acceptance speeches to highlight or push (depending on your perspective) their favorite causes—although I can’t say I was expecting someone to use the slogan “workers of the world unite.”
The Church Doesn’t Need People. People Need the Church
You are the salt of the earth! You are the light of the world! These might be some of the most famous phrases of Jesus (Matthew 5:12-16), yet I am not sure we often fully engage their meaning. Ultimately, Jesus is saying, “The world needs you.”
In the middle of the night, that’s when I fear unlove. Whatever light shone during the day, its not guaranteed that it will come back again in the morning. I wonder on my pillow if I did the right thing, said enough words, made my warmth accessible enough to you. I wonder in the darkness if you will be kind to my vulnerability, patient with my emotions, present in the raw moments.