It was good. It was good just to have that reminder that we are not the only ones doing what we do.
Something I’m trying to get my mind around – should being a presbyter be like any other profession? Is it really like being a professional counselor? Is that any more appropriate than the model of pastor as CEO?
We lit candles for significant (to us) saints at the All Saints Celebration over the weekend. I tried for a few minutes to think of a dead person whose faith and work had impacted me. I could only think of one: Geoffrey Anketel Studdert-Kennedy. I read quite a bit of his poetry while at Oxford, and was struck to find the candor with which his “rough rhymes” expressed and mourned the suffering of the post-WWI era, both of men and of God. He was called “Woodbine Willie” because he (against regulations) entered the trenches with the men on the front lines, handing out Woodbine cigarettes and saying the burial office while covered in muck. He was an early leader also of the Christian Industrial Fellowship – I’ll leave you to suppose what that was all about in 1920s England.
I was struck by something else. I read bits of theology and the history of the ancient Christian church, try to understand the stuff of the original gospel proclamation and how it first came to bear in particular cultural contexts and get excited about that work. I want to be involved in the conversation and do the needful and hard work of faithfully translating the ancient faith into contemporary practice. I want to do that as a presbyter and teacher, looking after people, offering the sacraments, helping them live into and practice God’s vision for their lives as the Body of Christ, and speak healing into dark and empty places.
I’m not sure I’ve yet seen a model of professional ministry that put those things at the top of the job description. I’ll keep giving “traditional church” the benefit of a doubt (I have been, really!), but that doubt is shrinking.
I want to be faithful, but I don’t know in which direction I ought to walk, at least in terms of professional clergydom and denominational polity.
From T.S. Eliot, Ash Wednesday:
Because I cannot hope to turn again
Consequently I rejoice, having to construct something
Upon which to rejoice