Thursday, February 5, 2009

In the presence of the Lord...

One of the genuinely fascinating challenges of serving a local church is managing the emotional roller coaster of each day - especially the unplanned challenges. Today, for example, began at 8:15 am with morning prayer and study. About 9:30 am there was an email newsletter to write, then off to church for a time of checking in, phone calls and editing. Upon arrival I was told that our current interim musician is still down with a back injury - he will be back in the musical saddle NEXT week - so we'll have to punt again!

So after rewriting the liturgy it was off to Berkshire Community College for a forum on the arts in prison. After the presentation, I met with a colleague who will be preaching for me in March and whom I would like to begin a formal/informal spiritual friendship. It was a beautiful conversation sharing our wounds and blessings and history as white, Protestant intellectuals of this time and place. He is a bright, insightful man who I look forward to knowing better as we talk and pray about growing deeper into God's gracious spirit.
Then it was a quick dash back to church to meet a dear man who is very active in our local mission just to catch up after my recent illness. After some chai and conversation, the head of our Stewardship Team stopped by to have an impromptu conversation about managing our finances in these uncertain economic times. It was an unexpected but helpful conversation and I suspect good things will come out of it all.

Before meeting with a young couple for premarital counseling, I needed to return a few phone calls and talk with my secretary about some scheduling concerns. (We are trying to work with another local arts group for a wild April Fools Day event that is going to require LOTS of coordination!) Then my young couple gathered for a conversation about where God might be present in our marriage liturgy before some more follow-up phone calls. On my way home, I had an update conversation with our moderator - thank God for cell phones - and finished up my work day with emails about our search for a new music director.

Watching the news I wept and prayed as the Roman Catholic Church continues to shoot itself in the foot with the so-called reconcilation of a Shoah-denying bishop and all the bullshit they have to swallow to make peace with this lunatic. It brought to my heart the need to find a way to very clearly stand in solidarity with my Jewish colleagues in the Berkshires in a new and creative way. Before bed I will say my end of the days prayers, pray my new Psalm of the heart - Psalm 131- and read a few articles from a professional journal.

This work is something I love and it certainly beats heavy lifting - it has been a deep privilege -but sometimes take a toll, yes? It is deep and satisfying. There has always been an element of surprise in this ministry - sometimes good and often tragic - and there is no real rhythm to any day (except my study and writing days which I have carved out of my schedule to give myself time and perspective once a week.) I am blessed to live this life and share this ministry with those I love. It is just a wild ass way of walking by faith... My favorite hymn puts it like this:

Won't you let me be your servant
Let me be as Christ to you
Pray that I may have the grace to
Let you be my servant, too.

We are pilgrims on a journey
We are travelers on the road
We are here to help each other
Walk the mile and bear the load.

I will weep when you are weeping
When you laugh I'll laugh with you
I will share your joy and sorrow
Till we've seen this journey through.

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