Monday, December 28, 2009

Now We can Get to Work

It's interesting the difference a good night's sleep makes. On Sunday afternoons, right after church I'm in a really bad mood. Every little noise bothers me. Every conversation I had that morning comes back and I put the most negative interpretation on them.

I felt that way again yesterday, and I felt like I did an especially good job. Afterward, I felt especially bad.

This church is falling apart and everyone's going to blame me, I think.

Well, they do have problems. I actually saw them when I first got here and everyone was telling me about problems that weren't really there.

Now, people are beginning to see them and they're getting scared.

I caught their anxiety yesterday, but this morning I'm thinking, It's about time.

And I don't think they're blaming me, although they might in the future. Perhaps they're in the mood to listen more.

In any case, they're at a crisis, and realize it. Now, maybe we can get some work done.

As it so happens, this is the kind of work I'm best at.

Friday, December 18, 2009

We have a new dog.

We already have a cat that I don't like, and I didn't care to add to the count of incontinent creatures at my casa. But we have one now. And I'll tell you why.

My son asked for one.

He didn't beg or plead. In fact, his tone was very quiet and polite. I've learned that it's desperately important to him when he speaks that quietly.

We looked for a dog that needed a home. The first one was too much. Too big. Too excited. Too enthusiastic. She knocked the boy down right off the bat. He laughed. I didn't.

This was not going to be our dog.

"I think we need to keep looking, son. What do you think?"

"I think I would like this one," he said in that same soft tone.

"Can you help me get this beast in the car?" I ask the vet's attendant.

Pushover? Not me. I told him he had to vacuum the car when we got home.

The thing is, he's a good boy. He knows we don't make a lot of money and he never asks for big things. I already know he won't shirk the responsibilities required of a dog owner.

But mostly I gave in because he's lonely.

He's smart, articulate, and creative--qualities that are not abundant around here. And this is not an easy place for any of us to make friends. He sits too much with a book or a sketch pad or he stares at the TV.

But yesterday, he spent all afternoon playing tag with his new dog who already worships the boy.

They say that preachers' kids are the worst ones in the community. It's not true about mine. And it wasn't true about me or my siblings when we grew up in a preacher's family.

My kids are some of the best. They're honor students and they win awards in everything they participate in. They're never in trouble. They're creative, articulate, and kind.

And isn't because I've done a stellar job raising them.

I sometimes think about how my children bear the consequences of life choices that I have made. Being a minister can be lonely and frustrating but I chose to do it. They didn't.

So if a dog makes my child less lonely and a little healthier, of course he's going to get one.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Just Shut Up and Gimme Some Help

Is there anything as boring as intellectual discussion in theology?

I'm talking about my liberal friends who usually say things like, "What are the ramifications of the cosmological model of theology?" Or, "Is there any way to reconcile the Anselmian model of atonement theory with current Feminist theology?"

Sometimes they want to be more practical so they talk of social justice issues. Whole denominations will discuss the wording in a resolution concerning their position on global warming that they will send to a government entity that will throw it in the shredder.

I have enough education in the field to add to the discussion but I usually refrain because I just don't give a crap.

I'm a small town clergy guy. Real respectable, but not real remarkable. I'm up to my armpits in domestic violence, sexual confusion, grieving parents, and hungry children.

My theology consists of trying to connect with a supposedly compassionate God. I'd love for him/her/it, as well as every mush mouthed theologian to come down from on high and lend a hand.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Right Moment

I was visiting with the man and his wife in the hospital room when the doctor entered with the bad news. The tumor had returned. There was nothing else to be done. The man had only a short time to live.

He took it with a graceful calm. The woman cried softly and I held her.

They commented on how good it was that I happened to be there right at that time. I reflected on how this used to happen all the time in my ministry. I would be there with the person right when they needed the minister the most. I attributed it to the Holy Spirit

And maybe it was, but it was also due to my hyper vigilance. There was a time when I was always available, alert, and could anticipate when I was needed. It seemed mystical , but in fact it was exhaustive--which sort of gave things an ethereal feel to it.

I can't do it anymore because I'm too tired and my family needs me, too. So the Holy Spirit will just have to be a little clearer as to when he wants me to step in. And maybe He was that day.

I was glad I was there. They were a brave couple, accepting bad news with grace. They are why I do what I do.