The Pastor Challenge
Monday, January 21, 2008
I was disappointed that attendance continues to decline. There are a couple of reasons for this, I think. One is that some guys are disgruntled with the seminary administration and the direction the seminary has been going, and so show it by staying home. They believe attending is a sign of support for the seminary. I don't think that is true, and don't want to impoverish myself from the learning I receive there. And while I also do not agree with everything going on, neither do I know the whole story, and I am still willing to "put the best construction" on things. The second reason folks have been staying away (I believe) is that in recent years the presentations had gotten too "esoteric" and were not enough directly addressing the needs of the Church. I think that changed this year, and I hope we will continue in a better direction.
All in all it was a good week.
Thursday, January 17, 2008
+ Mark tells us that Jesus was "thrown out" into the wilderness after His baptism. Why that verb? He is beginning to experience the same thing as the first Adam when he was "thrown out" of Eden and into the wilderness.
+ In the beginning, creation was not "neutral" -- but served sacramentally (small 's') to aid/contribute to our communion and fellowship with God.
+ God breathed life into Adam. What is one of the first things Jesus does after His resurrection? He breathes on His disciples and gives them the Spirit, to give them life. Creation - re-creation.
+ How does Jesus paying the "Temple Tax" foreshadow or fit into the truth of the atonement?
Very enjoyable so far. I am looking forward to today's lectures.
Sunday, January 13, 2008
Saturday, January 12, 2008
If you are even somewhat a reader of the Lutheran blogosphere, you know that every so often a topic emerges that “discusses” Lutheran versus Orthodox theology. (I put that in quotes because often times it seems as if the discussion devolves rather quickly into sniping, accusations, and worse.) Me, being hopelessly and semi-permanently naïve, thinks this is a good thing. For responding to the theology and challenges of those who disagree with us serves to sharpen our own theology and thinking.
I know this is true for me, and not just about Orthodoxy, although certainly including it. One of the wonderful things about my congregation is the great questions they often pose to me on a whole host of topics. And while it is often frustrating to me not to have the answers they are looking for, it forces me to dive into the Scriptures, study, and keep reading. I don’t let my folks get away with “cliché” answers in class and constantly ask them why they are answering as they are. So it is good when they come up with questions for me and want to know why.
This is also why recent talk in our Synod about lessening the education required of pastors before ordination scares me. I know how unworthy and unable I am to meet all the challenges of being a pastor (a fact that becomes more evident to me with every passing year) though I thought I was very well trained coming out of seminary! I wonder what our Synod’s current path will lead to . . . but that is probably a topic for another post.
Friday, January 4, 2008
Many folks have trouble taking their work home with them. Not trouble doing it, but trouble not doing it! The result is often that family and home life suffers for the sake of job, money, or advancement. It seems to me that if anything should be true, this should be the other way around. We do not realize how important our vocations as fathers and mothers, husbands and wives, really are.
Yet I have found as a pastor, I am particularly afflicted with this problem. The sadnesses of the ministry and my own failures follow me home. I have trouble turning off my mind and focusing on my family, as sermon writing, questions, issues, and concerns keep filling and turning over in my mind. I do not willingly bring these home with me, but they follow, unwanted. And so I find myself not being the father and husband I want to be for my family.
Pastors are always on call. I can handle that. The hours I work, the evening and weekend schedules, I have some say in. That’s the physical part, and perhaps for me, the easiest part. But the emotional and mental stress of the ministry I found not so easy to deal with. I may have to share in the suffering of my flock, but my family shouldn’t have to. Perhaps realizing it is half the battle.