Thursday, November 14, 2013

Becoming... 20

Circle of Grace, this small, progressive, ecumenical, feminist, church will be 20 coming up in December.  
Hard to believe. 
Hard to believe it has been 20 years. 
Hard to believe we've made it through so many ups and downs. 
Hard to believe that we are still figuring out who we are.

Or perhaps not hard to believe. We are always 'becoming'. 
As we learn through explorations of theology and the Word we become more intentional. 
As we work to make room for our different understandings we become more expansive. 
As we struggle through life changes we become less arrogant. 
As we grapple with our shadow sides we become wiser.

The wise feminist theologian Sally McFague teaches us that  when we make our religious symbols absolutes we become rigid in our religious thinking . She suggests - and we are committed to - understanding images as metaphor: fluid, with open meanings and always expansive.  

I bring that up because it harkens back to the idea that we are still becoming. We are still in process. Still discovering what it means to make spiritual community that is both Christian and feminist. Twenty years later and I am more aware now of how much I don't know. I know less now than when we started and yet I have gained the wisdom of fools.  I have come to trust in the process of becoming as we learn again and again to trust in Godde's crazy leading rather than in what seems to make realistic sense. 

Twenty years and this I have learned: we will never arrive, we will never be codified and we will always - and I mean always - be on a learning curve! 
I am grateful for twenty years of lessons, some of which I will have to re-learn and some that  are engraved on my heart. 
I am grateful for a community of the Spirit that is willing to wrestle with Godde and one another.
I am grateful that Godde is always doing a new thing. 
I am grateful that we are still becoming. Even after 20 years.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Desert Times

Today I am grateful for those saints who taught me that there are desert times.
Dry times.
Times where your bones feel like dust and yet you carry on.
Where Godde does not seem so much absent as irrelevant. And that it is okay.

For many that may seem like a real heresy.
A pastor who is tired? Dry?
Without passion?
A pastor who is not seeking Godde in each moment?
A pastor who seems to have no hope?

I wonder why it is so difficult for people to see pastors as regular old people with real struggles. 
Some of the answers I know: we fill the roll of embodied Presence during times of worship, rites of passage, transitions, illness and death. 
For those who find it difficult to trust their own relationship with Godde, we are often the trusted authority.
For some, a pastor is the one who points the way and says "all will be well and all will be well and all manner of things will be well." 
For some, a pastor is one who offers answers to life's questions.
Those are all big and important things. 
And may be why the ministry is top-heavy with sociopaths.

But what makes me a pastor? 
Is it greater piety? no. I have exchanged piety for a passion for justice.
Is a closer relationship with Godde? no. Anyone and everyone can be deeply in relationship with Godde.
Is it that somehow I am more special than the average bear? no. I put on my socks one foot at a time.
Am I more deeply aware, more spiritually developed? only as much as my years and experience, prayer and time allow, less than many and on the same road as everyone else.

For me, being a pastor is being in service. I am in service to Godde. I am in service to my community. I am in service to the world. That is what makes me a pastor. To be a good servant I am called to prayer, to study, to walk my talk, and to be spiritually, physically and mentally healthy. I am also called to cook and clean, set up and break down.

I am not always be a good servant, though I always wish I were.  Sometimes my life is difficult and my prayer life suffers - as does my spiritual, physical and mental well-being. 
Just like most people. 
Lately, my life has been filled with unforeseen changes, loss, grief and anger. 
It makes me no less a pastor, just not as good of a servant as I want to be. 
I am dry and dusty and ache with malaise. 

But I know that Godde is with me, in me, between me and all that is and all who are.
I  trust that I will find my way back to joy and energy and service that is never grudging.

And all of this is to say, what? 
What, especially in Christian feminist community, does this mean for for all of us?

I hope it means:
That there is enough room for each of us to be on our journey.
That when one falls down, the others gather 'round. 
That 'pastor' can be about call and training, gifts and skills... but not about better or more than.
That we remember that we are not a hierarchy but a circle of servanthood. 
And sometimes that pastor needs you to hold the Christ-light for her.

In my dusty time, many of my community have not only held the Christ-light, but Christ-torches!
And I am finding my way back to the well of living water one day at a time.