I've been working full-time, preaching off-lectionary, planning a kitchen renovation, and continuing to try and stay in half-marathon shape -- all of which hasn't added up to a lot of energy for blogging. Never fear, I'm sure I'll return, maybe even next week when I'm back to lectionary preaching.
I'm also working on two writing assignments for Advent and Christmas resources -- which is beyond bizarre to be thinking of just after summer solstice. As pastors, we're always thinking a little bit "off-season," but this is just weird.
On the anniversary of Columbine, Newsweek had a poignant article about two pastors who were serving in the area at the time, and the toll that event took on their congregation's and their lives. Pastor Marxhausen, a Lutheran minister who presided at Dylan Kliebold's funeral, said "I learned how fear can take hold of a community. You have to be
prepared to hurt when you go into the ministry. But I never thought it
would hurt that much."
A few weeks ago I met a woman who was a youth minister at another local Lutheran church at the time of Columbine. When the crisis team from Lutheran Social Services came in to talk with her and other church leaders, they said bluntly, "Most of you will no longer be on staff here in two years." Their experience was that these events take an enormous toll on leaders, even if they are not the ones directly grieving the dead. All the anniversary reporting I've read confirms their prediction was true.
I thought of this this week when I learned that a gifted pastor I know is now senior pastor at Reformation Lutheran in Wichita, where Dr. Glenn Tiller was shot on Pentecost Sunday as he was ushering for his congregation. There are all kinds of ways in which the situation is not analogous, but the trauma is still profound. I'm praying for this congregation and its leaders that they can make it through the long road ahead.
When I moved to Minnesota, I was astonished by the sacrosanct nature of the
Graduation Open House. The rules:
1. Every student must
have one (or share one with a friend or two).
2. Everyone -- not just family -- must be invited.
3. Vast quantities of
food must be offered.
4.. All partiesmust
happen on the same weekend.
Needless to say, this makes for a lot of stops in one
weekend, if you're pastor of a congregation with more than a couple high school
This year even more than most, I have connections with more
high school students than someone my age would normally have. I've been to Boston and China with
these graduates. Many of them have baby-sat my kids. I've confirmed them and
watched their various abilities grow and griped at them for wearing flip-flops in inappropriate places.
If I weren't a pastor, I don't imagine I'd be spending much
of this weekend going to parties. We know only one couple our age who --
because they married right out of college -- have kids that age. I suppose, without
the church, we would have found
babysitters somehow. But without this community, my daily life would not bring me into
relationship much with 18 year olds. What a gift that it does!
Many years (can it be ten??) ago I attended several events where leaders in what-came-to-be the Emergent movement gathered to talk about the future of the church. Many of them were Boomer-driven megachurch exiles who were sensing that the old/new Evangelical ways of being church were not working for younger generations, and perhaps weren't even faithful to the fullness of Jesus' message.
I met some wonderful people there: Doug Pagitt, Brian MacLaren, and others. But as a Lutheran woman it was a little like being a fish out of water. I had no goatee. The sacraments and Roman Catholic spiritual exercises were not exotic to me. And theologically my tradition had never bought the modernist-rational deal anyway.
In my current callings as pastor and Mom I have little space to connect deeply with emergent folk outside my immediate ministry circles, but I'm very excited about Chrisitanity 21, which will be held here in Minneapolis in October. All you have to do is read the list of speakers to know that this is not going to be the usual round of guys-with-big-churches instructing others on how church should be done. God be praised.
So, if you're coming into town for this, let me know. I'd love to see you. If you want to register, use the code "wordbyword" and if we get enough through this blog I can offer someone a scholarship to go (or even a free hotel room. . . ).