Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Life's Surprises

Well, after just about deciding that my final years of productive work would be as a manual laborer working graveyard shift, life pulled another surprise - two churches have recently contacted me about the possibility of becoming their pastor. And more surprising, both are from the theological spectrum end that I most identify with - the left, or liberal, or progressive. I'm providing requested information and seeking to be forthright and forthcoming in meeting their requests to see where this goes. That isn't to say I've tried to hide information from other churches in the past, just that I'm trying to be as up front as possible.

I've also simply shook my head as I listened to the corporate spiel about the Employee Free Choice Act - "it will take away your right to a private vote!" Fear the union! They aren't interested in you! Well, while they might not be quite what they started out as, the unions are there to protect the workers and to see that there is accountability on the part management. And if a company doesn't want to have a union gain power, perhaps they should consider accomplishing for their people what unions are there for - accountability, fair treatment for all, fair pay and hours. It's not that difficult, people! It's just sad that corporate America feels a need to resort to scare tactics and lies to try to stop legislation to help laborers have the option to ask for union representation.

Life is full of surprises, and those surprises can keep life interesting and chase away boredom! So enjoy life's little surprises - the enjoyable things that happen unexpectedly, the humorous things that bring a smile or even a belly laugh, the old friend who pops out of the "woodwork" to reconnect with us.


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Be Yourself

I've been a pastor for 31 years, I've been through several searches - the process of finding a church to serve - and have tried several times to read profiles of churches and find a way to be what they are looking for because they were an appealing to me. My track record? Not all that good from the point of view of how long I've been places. But from the point of view of what I was able to accomplish, well that's another story until the last two. The churches grew by about 30%, attendance increased, and new programs were added or dead programs revived. In the last two churches, well, perhaps the best way to look at it is that we - the church and I - failed to clearly communicate with one another about what our expectations and our willingness to change.

I firmly believe the Christian Church actually needs to change dramatically to continue to exist in any meaningful manner. The pattern of existence from half a century ago will not help the church live into the future, nor will it help the world to find a better path to living peacefully and justly. Part of that change is the need for members to connect once more with the early church pattern of each member finding their particular gift(s) and then actively using that gift(s) to help the community, which will then help the particular congregation grow. I've even heard of churches that have done this that actually intentionally, amiably separated to create additional congregations more closely connected with the communities from which they drew members. Some church growth experts speak of satellite congregations connected under a founding church where closed circuit television allows a single pastor to preach to a variety of congregations using different worship styles and focused on a slightly different manner of carrying out their mission.

I've recently video taped a sermon trying to fit what one church might have wanted. I sent them the disk and never heard back from them until the disk returned. I'm preparing to do another and have decided that I will do this one as I have become comfortable delivering the message. As a colleague from Iowa (now in Wisconsin) said, "I'm [sixty] years old! I don't have to apologize for what I know, or what I believe." I will continue to try to learn, to adapt, but I really don't need to be like the religious leaders of Jesus' time trying to fit into the political realities to the point of losing who I am from my faith perspective; rather I need to remain true to my faith, and seek to find ways that will help others understand my beliefs, as well as trying to understand theirs.

If persons of faith can learn to respectfully live with one another without declaring only one stated set of beliefs are true, I believe we can start learning that the Divine has come repeatedly to help us try to understand what we CAN be. We need to learn to see the person behind the beliefs, to see the child of the divine rather than an enemy to be conquered, subjugated, converted.

Perhaps by sharing, we can begin to learn from one another.


Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Bugs

Well, with the crazy winter weather that Colorado has had, and the plethora of bugs that are enjoying the situation, one finally took residence within my body. I'm hacking away, to the point co-workers were asking my beloved to take me home, and coming over to ask if I was OK, would I make it, and similar such questions. Since finances are such that I cannot afford to be off work, thus short hours and money, my stock answer is, "Don't worry about me until you find me lying in the aisle, not moving at all." That usually gets a grin, perhaps a smart response, and we are back to work.

I've been approached by a church about the possibility of candidacy for their pastoral position. I've read the profile, talked with my beloved, and indicated a willingness to go forward. It's still way to early to have a clue where this bug will lead, but it is there and tickling interest. The church is closer to our son, daughter-in-law, and grandson. It is also closer to the Great Lakes, hence in the snow belt that has been getting hammered this winter with snow, cold and storms.

Another bug that has been inching into the picture is a return to an earlier avocation - fishing. They do a lot of fly fishing here, but there are also lakes and reservoirs that will yield bass, crappie, sunnies, and walleye. Dad, I'm thinking of you, and just might try to get out on Bonnie for those walleyes we never got a chance to tackle together! Son, I don't think I'll get the thrill you got with your first Northern pike, because they aren't around here.

Still another bug niggling at the back of things is the bug to start writing again, working on stories that have floated for years, and see if there might be a retirement enhancing possibility there. I've thought of a variety of genres to write in, and dabbled, but never sought publication. Some day!

For now the issue is getting rid of this nasty cold that seems to be double parked in my nose and chest - and the faster the better! Here's hoping you all avoid such nasties!!