For The Someday Book

Posts Tagged ‘pastoral life

Abide With Me by Elizabeth Strout, Random House, 2006, 294 pp.

Abide With MeOh, what a beautiful novel this is. It is a profound testimony to grief, community, ministry and the relationship between a church and its pastor. I need novels for myself, for my own emotional well-being. Sometimes, I have a tough time breaking down and working through my own feelings. The problems are too close and too complex and they feel overwhelming. A good novel lets me do the emotional work a bit vicariously–weeping, grieving, sitting in silence. Abide With Me was just that kind of book.

The novel tells the story of Rev. Tyler Caskey, a pastor to a small town church in Maine. It is the story of his marriage to an unlikely candidate to be a pastor’s wife, of their love and their struggles and her untimely death. It is the story of his daughter Katherine, age 5, and how his grief and her own break down in her life. It is the story of the members of the parish–the organist who wants a new organ and her husband reckoning with his unfaithfulness; the housekeeper who befriends him in spite of her shady past; the teacher and school psychologist who play out their own assumptions on him and his daughter, on and on. It is a story about the heavy, heart-wrenching work of grief, the toll it takes on a life to engage that work, and the even greater cost of ignoring it. In the end, it is a story of redemption and the power of community to move beyond rumor and gossip into love. It is a story of imperfection and vulnerability between pastor and congregation, told with hope and affection.

Strout includes many insightful gems from the life and mind of the minister, like Tyler’s desire for “The Feeling,” the “profound and irreducible knowledge that God was right there” (15)  and his reflections and comparisons of his own calling with that of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, which many a pastor has done (including this one). At one point, his sister accuses him of caring too much about the feelings of others: “If you’re always thinking of the other person first, you don’t have to bother with what you’re feeling. Or thinking.” (123)

When Tyler’s grief finally overtakes him and he breaks down in the pulpit, the organist subtly begins playing “Abide With Me,” his favorite hymn, while the head deacon comes forward and takes his hand. His seminary professor then tells him,

Your congregation, it seems to me, has given you love. And it’s your job to receive it. Perhaps before now they gave you an admiring, childlike kind of love, but what happened to you that Sunday–and their response to it–is a mature and compassionate love. (286)

I am blessed to serve that kind of congregation, and I was blessed to read about Tyler Caskey’s congregation, the way they cared for each other as pastor and congregation. Thank you, Elizabeth Strout, for Abide with Me.

Christianity After Religion: The End of Church and the Birth of a New Spiritual Awakening by Diana Butler Bass, HarperOne, 2012, 294 pp.

Christianity after ReligionThe ever-wise Diana Butler Bass continues her quest to root out the spiritual lives of contemporary Americans and the ways that local churches are helping, hurting, or just left out of them. Christianity After Religion unfolds the next chapter of the work she began in The Practicing Congregation (2004) and continued in Christianity for the Rest of Us (2006). Those books examined what was happening among mainline congregations in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Christianity After Religion moves beyond what’s gone wrong and what’s going right in churches, and starts to posit what comes next after the rapid upheaval of the last several decades.

Bass describes a radical transformation underway in the practice of Christianity, triggered by a crisis in legitimacy. The crisis in legitimacy means that “large numbers of people question basic aspects of meaning and life.” (47) The basic questions–What do I believe? How should I act? Who am I?–are not being answered in a meaningful, satisfactory way by religion as it has been known and practiced. The compelling sense of believing, behaving and belonging has slowly eroded from contemporary Christianity. Bass traces the ways that believing, behaving and belonging have faded, leaving us with a faltering religion and the rise of the “spiritual but not religious” segregation.

While the decline and crisis of legitimacy have been unfolding for decades, the first dozen years of the 21st century have been especially brutal. Bass identifies this as the “horrible decade” with a precipitous decline in religious participation and a “religious recession.” She cites five triggers for this horrible decade:

  1. September 11, 2001 Terrorist Attacks: When religion was blamed for the attacks
  2. Roman Catholic Sex Abuse Scandal: When religious leaders went from most trustworthy to least trustworthy professionals
  3. Protestant Conflict over Homosexuality: When Christians were mean to each other and especially mean to LGBT people
  4. Religious Right Win in 2004 Election, but Lose a Generation: The reelection of George W. Bush felt like a victory for the right, but it alienated an entire generation of young people who associated Christianity with ugly politics, power and exclusion
  5. Religious Recession: Studies document that only 20% of Americans have a “great deal of confidence” in “organized religion.” Participation declines rapidly. (76-83)

These have been the exact years of my ministry. I was ordained in the spring of 2001, and I have never known another decade of ministry. This is what it’s always been like. However, when you add it up like Bass does, it looks pretty bleak.

However, Bass is not bleak in her outlook. Not at all. Instead, she pronounces that this discontent is actually “a deeper longing for a better sort of Christianity.” (87)

What the world needs is better religion, new forms of old faiths, religion reborn on the basis of deep spiritual connection–these things need to be explored instead of ditching religion completely. (96)

The root of religion is “religio,” to reconnect–to claim the “and” of faith and practice.

What I appreciate most about Bass in this book is that she doesn’t stop there. In fact, she’s just getting started. She begins to chart the course of the new Christianity that might emerge–what it will look like, how it will feel, what it will embody. She returns to each of the fundamental questions of believing, behaving and belonging and offers a perspective on how they will be redefined and how we can begin to engage that work. For the work of believing, she shifts the question from “What do I believe?” to “How do I believe?” and “Who do I believe?” Those changes make room to explore issues of authority, meaning and authenticity. The work of behaving shifts attention to practices of faith. While habit used to be sufficient, we must now return to bigger questions of “what” and “why” we engage in worship, prayer, service and other practices. Bass writes,

Practices are the connective tissue between what is, what can be, and what will be. Spiritual practices are living pictures of God’s intentions for a world of love and justice. (160)

Our attention to behaving must focus on intention (the practices that will intentionally give shape to my life in faith) and imitation (the practices that imitate Jesus and the saints). The work of belonging, then, is the fundamental work of identity. Who am I? Where am I? Who am I in God? Our sense of identity is in flux, moving away from old familial and geographic identifiers and toward a more fluid understanding that “I am my journey.” (178)  Our spiritual journey then becomes a sense of discovering who we are in God and through God, in relationship to God and one another.

After describing the new questions of believing, behaving and belonging, Bass proclaims that there needs to be a “great reversal.” For the last 500 years, since the Enlightenment and Reformation, we have put belief first in the order of faith, followed by behaving and then belonging. It is time to return to the original order: belong, behave, believe. First we belong to a community, then we take on the practices of faith. The sense of belonging (identity) and behaving (practicing) are what evoke believing. (203-204) The final section of the book outlines this transformation as a Fourth Great Awakening, and draws some of the outlines taking shape.

Christianity After Religion is one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. I’ve read dozens of books about the decline of the church, the need for transformation, the causes of the collapse and what we should be doing about it. None of them compare to the depth of insight, wisdom, description and prescription found here. I finished reading it about six weeks ago, and I’m already feeling the need to read it again. It is a book to study, revisit and use as a lens for seeing contemporary ministry and religious life. I think every religious leader should be reading this book, talking about it, and finding ways to interact with it in their ministry. This book contains what may seem like depressing information about the demise of religious life as we’ve known it in our lifetimes. But it rings with hope at every page. There will be death, to be sure–but God holds out the promise for a resurrection, more beautiful and brilliant that we could have imagined. Thank you, Diana Butler Bass, for helping to roll away the stone.

Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner and Saint by Nadia Bolz-Weber, Jericho Books, 2013, 206 pp.

PastrixI have been reading Nadia Bolz-Weber’s blog at Sarcastic Lutheran for several years, and I have appreciated the depth, honesty, and fresh insight of her sermons. I first heard about the forthcoming book there many months ago, and I have been amazed to see her celebrity develop since the book’s release. She was already a popular figure in some Christian circles, but her voice is reaching much more broadly now. Just yesterday on Christmas Eve, NPR’s Morning Edition did a feature story on her.

Before I talk about the book itself, I want to disclose my reaction to the hype about the book. In watching her blog change and transform before the book release, and then watching her move from a struggling new church start pastor into a celebrity preacher, I have watched her persona become her brand, her story become her marketing pitch, and her scrawny struggling church become the hippest place to be. This move into a polished, packaged Nadia–not fake, just an image carefully cultivated–made me skeptical about the book. The media seem captivated by her swearing and her tattoos, which I don’t find particularly scandalous or even interesting. (Not-so-secret pastor insight: most pastors I know swear like sailors, just not around the church. It’s a pretty harmless vice.) What made her voice so powerful was its earnest wrestling with grace. Would the book contain the raw struggle I so appreciated, or would it have been packaged and marketed and honed so carefully that the rawness was gone?

Pastrix did not disappoint. While it did feel more edited and worked-over that her older writings, any book with a decent editor should be that way. While I guess the swearing and stories about her pre-recovery life make the book edgy to some, the theology she espouses is traditional and orthodox, without being stuffy and pretentious. She speaks like many Christian converts I have met over the years–like someone whose life has been saved by a relationship with Jesus Christ. She wants others who are desperate and hurting to know the grace that now rules her life. Her experience, her intellect, her humor and her faith combine for a powerful take on the old-fashioned good news of the Gospel.

Pastrix didn’t offer me any particularly new information or revelation, although the grace and inclusiveness she preaches may be new to some. Instead, it was like listening to any exceptional preacher. Nadia Bolz-Weber’s words remind me of what I already know about God, church, grace and faith—but she says it so well, so powerfully that becomes new and moving all over again. I enjoyed this book for the same reason I have enjoyed her blog: she preaches to me in ways that move and inspire and make the Gospel real.

One example is her conversation on the human community of the church. She writes about what she tells newcomers wishing to join her church, House for All Sinners and Saints,

The community will disappoint them. It’s a matter of when, not if. We will let them down or I’ll say something stupid and hurt their feelings. I then invite them on this side of their inevitable disappointment to decide if they’ll stick around after it happens. If they choose to leave when we don’t meet their expectations, they won’t get to see how the grace of God can come in and fill the holes left by our community’s failure, and that’s just too beautiful and too real to miss. (54-55)

That sounds just like something I often say to new members at my church–only she says it much more beautifully than I do, and that keeps me coming back to hear her voice again.

I recommend Pastrix not because it’s edgy or cool, or because she’s a pastor who swears and wears tattoos, but because it’s just good preaching, good words, and it will lift your spirits.

I haven’t written much in awhile, due to a flurry of other writing and speaking engagements that have demanded my attention. One of them occurred last week, when I was invited to present at Distilled Spirit, a conversation about God and life modeled after Theology on Tap. The event was sponsored by a neighboring UCC congregation and held at Epicenter’s Moonshine University, the nation’s only institution dedicated to teaching the art of distilling spirits.

I had a great time presenting about “How My Mind Has Changed about the Bible,” while people sipped bourbon and giant distilling equipment sparkled in the background. Talk about a cool venue! It’s not every pastor who can say that she spoke at Moonshine University. Like the geek I am, I pulled out my camera and took pictures of the whole experience. Explaining myself to the gathered audience, I said, “I have to have proof I did this. Nothing is real until it’s up on Facebook.”

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The distillery at Moonshine University in Louisville, Kentucky.

The words came lightly at the time, but I have been contemplating them ever since.  Where did that idea come from? Did I really mean to suggest that my experience didn’t count unless it had been shared on Facebook? What does that imply about reality and our relationships through social media?

I traced the root of my comment back to something I had heard (and believed) about the church’s presence in social media. I heard someone remark that the world of the next generation existed online, and if the church wasn’t there, it was as if we didn’t actually exist. Just as the physical building of the church makes its presence real in a neighborhood, its web and social media presence make it real in the online world.

I also remembered hearing an expert in the Millenial Generation, most well known for being digital natives, talk about the way the presence of smartphones in our lives had changed social reality. Through the device, one’s entire network of friends and family and schoolmates and extended acquaintances travels with you everywhere you go. You can share life’s experiences with them in real time, even if they are a continent away. You expect them to be present with you everywhere, and to share in everything.

That’s what I was feeling with my compulsion to share pictures from Distilled Spirit. Through Facebook, I have an extended network of family, friends, and clergy colleagues with whom I share my life. The once-in-a-lifetime experience of speaking at Moonshine University was incomplete until I was able to share it with them.

This is an essential part of the human experience, with a new technological twist. We have always sought new and creative experiences, and we have always turned those experiences into stories and memories to be shared with others. Whether it’s swapping hunting and fishing tales around a campfire, writing letters home, or posting on Facebook, our best experiences are incomplete until they have been transformed from experience into story and shared with others.

News–whether it’s good news, bad news, or Gospel–doesn’t become real until it is shared with others, no matter the means of communication. A soldier at war is alive until the telegram arrives at his or her parents’ home. A relationship is real when it becomes “Facebook official” and you change your online profile. A marriage appears intact until you announce to friends and family that you’re separating.  A pregnancy takes on new dimensions when you start to share the ultrasound pictures. A new job is finally certain when you’re allowed to tell your friends–and your current boss–that you start next week. Even the reality of a loved one’s death only begins to sink in when we have to tell others he or she is gone.

Social media just adds new dimensions to that same reality. You experience something in the world, and then you re-experience it when you share it with others. Just like we can’t wait to see the look on someone’s face when we tell them about a terrific experience, we can’t wait to read our friends comments and replies online.

That’s why I have begun encouraging my congregation to make use of their smartphones in worship. Rather than seeing their desire to take pictures, tweet my sermon or check Facebook during worship as a distraction, I see it as a way of making the experience real and memorable, owning it as a part of their life story. I see it as part of spreading the Gospel good news. Borrowing an idea from Michael Piazza at the Center for Progressive Renewal, I now invite the congregation to “check in on Facebook and then check in with God” as they listen to the opening prelude. Sharing the experience of worship at our church with their online community–even if it means looking down at their smartphone during my sermon–makes it more real, not less. It’s not a blanket call for people to be playing with their smartphones during church, but it is a recognition that reaching over to grab the iPhone might be a way to go deeper with the message, not to ignore it.

Even more, it can be a great opportunity for evangelism. If an experience is only memorable and meaningful when we tell the story to others, by all means, we should be using every means at our disposal to facilitate that telling about God. Let us cement the Gospel story in the story of our lives by placing the church’s events alongside the first day of school, lunch at a fancy restaurant, feet at the beach, family at the holidays and funny cat photos in our Instagram, Facebook or Twitter feed. While there are limits to be sure, perhaps we should encourage our gathered congregations to integrate their spiritual and social lives by “checking in” at church and tweeting lines from songs and sermons. Our online lives enhance and expand our real-life experiences because we can share them with friends.

So, look everybody! Here’s me talking about the Bible at Moonshine University. How cool is that? You never know where Jesus is going to send you.

Here's me at Moonshine University!

Here’s me at Moonshine University!

The Pastor: A Memoir by Eugene H. Peterson, HarperOne, 2011, 320 pp.

PastorThis was a rich and rewarding read for me. Peterson, now famous as a writer, teacher and creator of the popular The Message translation of the Bible, was first a pastor. For most of his career, his calling was like mine–leading worship every week, preaching in season and out, handling the details of congregational life, attending to people’s needs for pastoral care, nourishing the church. Ours is a unique way of life, simultaneously a challenge and a privilege.  Not everyone “gets it” about this life, including some who spend years in the profession. Peterson does, and this book captures his insights about the pastoral life.

Peterson’s perspective on ministry is that it is not primarily a series of tasks to be performed, but a way of life to be lived–a way of being in relationship with a particular community, local, personal and prayerful.

I saw myself assigned to give witness to the sheer livability of the Christian life, that everything in scripture and Jesus was here to be lived. In the mess of work and sin, of families and neighborhoods, my task was to pray and give direction and encourage that lived quality of the gospel–patiently, locally and personally. Patiently: I would stay with these people; there are no quick or easy ways to do this. Locally: I would embrace the conditions of this place… so that there would be nothing abstract or piously idealized about what I was doing. Personally: I would know them, know their names, know their homes, know their families, know their work—but I would not pry, I would not treat them as a cause or a project, I would treat them with dignity. (247)

Much of being a pastor is about being a local theologian and spiritual leader. Peterson describes the theological task (in preaching and in pastoral care: “A congregation as a gathering of people that requires a context as large as the Bible itself if we are to deal with the ambiguities in the actual circumstances in which people live them.” (59) We are charged with interpreting the Gospel and pointing out the presence of God in a particular time and place.

Peterson’s high ecclesiology matches my own. He sees the local congregation as the unlikely bearer of grace in the world, in spite of its humble composition. The life of the congregation and its members is a mess most of the time, but it is a beautiful, holy mess, if you can see it. In describing the various founding members of his congregation, he talks about the brokenness and ordinariness of their lives, and marvels that God is able to build a church upon such humble leaders. Using as an example the story of David at Ziklag, he describes the congregation as “people whose lives were characterized by debt, distress and discontent–a congregation of runaways and renegades.” (106) That’s the truth of every church I’ve ever considered home.

What makes the church so powerful is the relationships we create between those broken people. Peterson describes the pastor’s unique place. We do not see people as problems to be solved, but as children of God. We are not there to fix people or problems, but to walk with people together and name the Spirit’s presence in us all. (136-137) That sense of unique, local representation of God’s community is the authentic church. He describes it further:

Churches are not franchises to be reproduced as exactly as possible wherever and whenever… If we don’t acquire a narrative sense, a story sense, with the expectation that we are each one of us uniquely ourselves–participants in the unique place and time adn weather of where we live and worship–we will always be looking somewhere else or to a different century for a model by which we can be an authentic and biblical church. (119)

This memoir is not perfect. He has a very conservative understanding of the role of the pastor’s spouse, and he presumes a full-time parish setting as the norm for ministry. Peterson’s ministry and his church took shape in the 1960s and 1970s. While that was not quite the heyday of the 1950s, it was still a boon time, when every subdivision was growing its own congregation. His freedom and flexibility in ministry seems like a luxury that may belong to days gone by.

However, I was able to read past those outdated assumptions because I believe that his basic understanding of the role of the pastor as local theologian and observer should withstand the cultural changes in the church. Indeed, I believe that such a holy-yet-ordinary understanding of the clergy is the one thing that must persist, no matter the pay scale. He summarizes that role in the opening pages:

The pervasive element in our two-thousand-year pastoral tradition is not someone who “gets things done,” but rather the person placed in the community to pay attention and call attention to “what is going on right now” between men and women, with one another and with God. (5)

That is indeed the most important thing about this pastoral life, but it is so hard to articulate. I am grateful for Peterson’s ability to describe this pastoral life to me as I live it, and perhaps even to those outside it.

Today marks one full week since my return from sabbatical. And by “full” week I mean FULL week. Last week was our monthly Council meeting, Ash Wednesday service, and the biggest event of the year, a Sausage Supper fundraiser where our little church fed over 700 people. Also, I returned to a nearly-completed construction project and four hospitalizations last week alone.

A full house for our Sausage Supper! I love these folks. (Photo by Ann Swilley)

The good news is: it’s great to be back. I was fearful that I would return half-heartedly, that I would long for the quiet days of sabbatical, or discover my passion had waned. None of those things has been true. It has been my heart’s joy to reunite with all the folks of the church. I struggled during sabbatical when major events were happening in people’s lives, and I was not a part of them. Now, I am able to return to my vocation, to offer pastoral support to people I have come to know and love, to be involved in the church I care so much about. There have been the requisite stresses and details that no one wants to have to handle, but those have been dwarfed by the joy of re-engagement. Leading worship on Sunday morning felt like coming home again, as though everything was right with the world.

The bad news is: the spiritual disciplines I so carefully cultivated during sabbatical were already washed up in the first week. And in Lent even! When I started the week, I was delighted to discover that my ritual of morning and evening prayer had become so much a part of me that I felt adrift without it. Rather than a burden, these spiritual disciplines felt like the anchors holding me steady in the hectic return. I was overwhelmed with conversations and news from people’s lives, and I craved the silence. However, at some point late in the week, I fell asleep exhausted without pausing for reflection. One day, I woke up with a migraine, and I just slouched out the door having barely opened my eyes, much less focused on praying a psalm. The next morning, I forgot altogether. The pastoral disciplines I had so ardently carved into my calendar didn’t make it through the first week either. I wrote my Ash Wednesday sermon in the pre-scheduled time, with great focus. But the time allotted for my Sunday sermon gave way to two hospital visits and an urgent meeting over an interpersonal conflict, which meant it was Saturday night writing again.

Here is the difference sabbatical has made: realizing that today I can pick up where I left off. Sabbatical was only a week ago. The personal and pastoral disciplines are not long-lost fantasies. So what if I messed up a few times last week? It’s Monday again, and I can start over. Today, I returned to the morning psalms, the page still bookmarked where I abandoned it. The distractions in my mind were more annoying than they were a week ago, but Psalmist’s words helped a great deal: “you encouraged me with inner strength.” (Psalm 138:3) After morning prayer, I realized that I needed to cultivate my inner strength by returning to my introverted ways. I needed to spend time writing this reflection, and so I did. I have made my list of tasks for the week (my first to-do list since I gave them up for sabbatical). I will include in my schedule a large block of time for sermon preparation before Saturday night, and hopefully this time it will hold up.

One of my readings at morning prayer said, "May you experience Jerusalem's goodness your whole life long." (Psalm 128:5, CEB) That is what spiritual disciplines help me do---experience to the presence of God in everyday life, just as I did during my pilgrimage. (Photo of a Jerusalem street, by me.)

Crazy, hectic weeks like last week will always be a part of ministerial life. They will always be a part of any life. The key is not letting crazy and hectic, or tasks and to-do’s, become the norm. It would have been very easy to wake up this morning and head straight into hospital visits, to-do lists and newsletter articles. Instead, I recognized I needed to stop and reorient myself. The gift of sabbatical has been to restore me to those disciplines that will sustain me in ministry. Prayer is called a “discipline” for a reason—it is a way of disciplining your self and your life in the shape of God. All those pressing tasks will get my time and attention, but not before God does. That’s why I got into this ministry thing in the first place. I was so in love with God and I wanted to find a way to show that love to others.

As I re-enter and re-integrate my spiritual life as a pastor and a person, I want to keep God at the center of every day. That’s easier said than done, but it is what must be done for me to continue to delight in this pastoral life. It’s good to be back—back to work, and back to the spiritual disciplines that sustain the work.

The pastoral vocation is a way of life. Ministry is more than a job, it is an identity. I have never felt a keen distance between my personal and pastoral identity. My pastoral self is a natural outgrowth of who I am, and it does not feel like a role I pick up and put down with artifice. I am a pastor wherever I go, and I don’t turn it off when I go home at night or leave on vacation.

This sabbatical is as close as I’ve come to setting aside my pastoral identity since I entered seminary nearly 15 years ago. For one whole month now, I have not had any pastoral duties. No preaching, no pastoral calls, no church meetings, no professional conversations, no leadership of any kind. I pray daily, go to church on Sundays, read the Bible, read books about spiritual life, and live my faith simply as a person.

The greatest gift of sabbatical so far has been renewing my relationship to God, to the church and to myself as a person, not just as a pastor. Again—this is important and worth repeating—pastoral life does not separate me from myself, and certainly not from God and from the church. It enhances and deepens all those relationships. However, all of my interactions, whether with God, with the church and with myself, become attached to my work, into the tasks of proclaiming and producing and planning and perceiving and propagating. The work of personal spiritual seeking and growing is intertwined with the work of professional spiritual leadership and church-growing. A moment’s insight about the Ground of All Being makes me question whether I am supposed to pass on that image to someone else in a pastoral conversation. An experience of illumination makes me wonder if I am supposed to include it in this week’s sermon. Not during sabbatical. The Presence and its gifts, for now, belong just to me. I am free from discerning whether God is telling me something for me, for the church or both. Right now, I can relate to God just as me, not as a mediator or leader or visionary or teacher or preacher.

In the life of ministry, we must always be listening for God’s voice and praying to hear God’s direction not just for ourselves, but all those to whom and with whom we minister. When we hear a message, we immediately repeat it, to share the good news with others. God loves you! There is enough! You are welcome just as you are! You are forgiven! Love and serve with all your heart! Sabbatical has made me realize that I have been so busy hearing and repeating these messages as a pastor that I have sometimes forgotten to hear and hold them as a person. The good news is for me, too.

 

In this sabbatical space, I am reminded that God loves me not just as a pastor, but as a person. God loves me not because of the work I do, but simply because I exist. In separating from the pastoral part of my identity for a time, I simply receive the gifts of God and delight in them.

That is the true meaning of all Sabbath practice. God created the world in six days, and rested to enjoy creation on the seventh day. God commands us to abstain from work one day every week, to remind us that we are a part of that creation, which God has called “good” and in which God delights. We are loved not for what we do, but for who we are as children of God.

None of this is unique to pastoral life, however. All of us, as Christians, are called to the work of ministry, to share the good news and serve others and build God’s community. Pastors are not the only vehicles of God’s work. We are all conduits of God for those around us, which is why we are all commanded to work, but also to Sabbath. We all need to be reminded that the message of good news does not just come through us, but to us. God loves you! You are welcome just as you are! You are forgiven!


About Me

I am a full-time pastor in the United Church of Christ, mother of a young child (B.), married to an aspiring academic and curmudgeon (J.). I live by faith, intuition and intellect. I follow politics, football and the Boston Red Sox. I like to talk about progressive issues, theological concerns, church life, the impact of technology and media, pop culture and books.

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