Eugene Peterson has a section in his book called ‘Between Sundays’. On Sundays he is in control. During the week he is not.
As he notes: ‘Sundays are easy…I know what I am doing…And the people are ready, arriving dressed and expectant.’ However, during the week this is not so. This is one of the reasons I read him: his searing honesty. I got tired of reading Christian books that gave me dishonesty and unrealistic promises. This is what he says about during the week. I thought it was only me that felt like this:-
‘I don’t know what I am doing half the time. I am interupted, I am asking questions to which I have no answers. I am put in situations for which I am not adequate. I find myself attempting tasks for which I have no aptitude or inclination. The vision of myself as pastor, so clear in Lord’s Day worship, is now blurred and distorted as it is reflected back from the yes of people who view me as pawn to their egos. The affirmations I experience in Sunday greetings are now precarious in the slippery mud of put-down and fault-finding.’
I have shamelessly ripped this off from http://visualtheology.blogspot.com/:-
I like the blog and I like the bloke. He bought me a beer a few years back and sat down and talked a few things through with me. Treat me like that and I will always value you.
This picture sums up a lot of my worldview, or at least my aspired worldview – I tend to slip from it. I can tolerate most things; where I perceive exclusion I cannot- whether it be in a playground, ‘my’ friends or wealth.
I take copious amounts of books on holiday. If I had a big enough car, I would take copious cds. Thanks goodness for ipods. This year I can take random music I have yet to listen to properly and see how it is improved by read wine, dark chocolate and French sun:-
I have tracked this for a while and finally it fell within my price range:-
The top selling welsh language cd of all time (I think it got to number 11 and was mentioned in Hansard). Tracks of typical Super Furry Animal strangeness sung in the language of heaven. This may just be one to listen to on my own and inflict on no one…
I found this on one of my web trawls. Like all good polemic, it made me think:-
If the church were Christian, Jesus would be a model for living, not an object of worship.
If the church were Christian, affirming our potential would be more important than condemning our brokenness.
If the church were Christian, reconciliation would be valued over judgment.
If the church were Christian, gracious behavior would be more important than right belief.
If the church were Christian, inviting questions would be more important than supplying answers.
If the church were Christian, encouraging personal exploration would be more important than communal uniformity.
If the church were Christian, it would care more about love and less about sex.
If the church were Christian, meeting needs would be more important than maintaining institutions.
If the church were Christian, peace would be more important than power.
If the church were Christian, this life would be more important than the afterlife.
-Philip Gulley (from http://james–lock.tumblr.com/)
The blog I am going to quote I read a lot. It was one of those blogs that when I first started reading it I began to think ‘I am not alone: other people think like this.’
I am going to cut and paste quite a bit of this, but there is still much, much more to read:-
‘I am a person prone to discouragement. Even depression. I know this about myself. And I’m done with“quick fix” approaches to “overcome” it. I don’t go to church, read books, or listen to Christian media to find “answers” for it. I go to worship God and receive the benefits of his Good News. I go to serve and be served by my forever family. I go as part of the rhythm of living in the Gospel—gathering with God’s people to worship, and then scattering to fulfill my vocation in the world in my daily life. It is not a weekly therapy session or tune-up from the Quick Lube.
Dealing with experiences like discouragement is something one learns and relearns over time. It has taken years of experience to recognize traits and patterns in my life and relationships, and I’m still flying blind much of the time. Such is the level of self-deceit human sinners like me maintain. Nevertheless, I like to think I’ve grown a little bit, at least enough to realize that the guy in the loud suit yelling at me from the back of the medicine show wagon probably doesn’t sell a potion that will cure my ills.
When I’m discouraged today, I might need someone to challenge me to get back in the game. Tomorrow, I might realize I need to take a walk with my wife and talk some things out. Next day, I might need to take a nap. Some days, lunch with a friend is in order. Other days, being alone helps. On certain days, I need to practice prayer more fervently. Other days, that will only discourage me further, so I should go mow the lawn or watch a ballgame. There are a million reasons why I get discouraged, and a million ways to help me work through it. At any given time, it may have something to do with my relationship with God or it may not. It could be something purely physical. Perhaps I’m emotionally exhausted and don’t realize it and need a friend to take me aside and gently insist that I take a break. Life is an infinitely complex tapestry and I distrust anyone who claims they can unravel it and give me a perfect analysis of its threads’.
Pure, pure gold….
I keep a journal. In that journal are jottings, rants, thoughts, prayers and questions. It is a way of anchoring me and helping me see where God is and where I am. I don’t know who said it, but I remember a quote: ‘The unreflected life is not worth living’.
No one gets to see it. I wouldn’t want anyone to: it is private. I am also mindful of the phrase ‘Do not practice your piety before people.’
However, a few weeks ago I was reading Luke 15: my favourite chapter in the whole Bible. I was leading something on v1-8 and thinking about the sheep being bought home. I wrote these words as I did not feel ‘home’- I rarely do as I am often restless. Occasionally this is a ‘holy restlessness’- mostly it is just me.
‘When you are coming home everything makes sense. You may not understand how or why but everything makes sense’.
I am on holiday-that time is often for me when I come ‘home’ to myself, to my familyand hopefully to God…..and learn that the centre of the world is not me and my efforts to impose meaning on it. I want to see ‘sense’.
After posting that video last Monday, a friend sent me this link:-
It takes the same script and morphs it into a slightly different context. Although you will also note that Jesus always wore a white robe and a blue or purple sash. Plus he was always bearded….
‘But the working environment of pastors erodes patience and rewards impatience. People are uncomfortable with mystery (God) and mess (themselves). They avoid both mystery and mess by devising programs and hiring pastors to manage them. A program provides a defined structure with an achievable goal. Mystery and mess are eliminated at a stroke. This is appealing. In the midst of the mysteries of grace and the complexities of human sin, it is nice to have something that you can evaluate every month or so and find out where you stand. We don’t have to deal with ourselves or with God, but can use the vocabulary of religion and work in an environment that acknowledges God, and so be assured that we are doing something significant.’ (p48)
I thank God for people like Eugene Peterson!
It is bead. It is beyond a guilty pleasure.
My only defence is that I grew up in the 1970s and someone has only got to say ‘We will sail’ or ‘what time will we sail’ or even better ‘we are sailing’ and I lapse into singing this. Mostly just in my head.
Bon voyage to me.
Yes, the video is dreadful and the hair…..one of the many things from the 70s that can’t be explained rationally.
You are abroad. You want to find something to read from ‘home’. You see a newspaper you are tempted buy that you would never normally buy ‘because it is British’.
Don’t. Just don’t.
Something from a modern day, flawed, prophet-particularly in the light of the last 3 weeks:-