I Want To Be Your Pastor Because I Need You

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community is needfulIndeed, I need you. I’ve grown up with various ways of expressing an old idea that each of us has “a God-shaped hole in our soul” that draws us to the divine. It’s been expressed in various ways from Augustine of Hippo in the 4th Century, Pascal in the 17th Century and our beloved C.S. Lewis in the 20th Century. I’ll let you do the Google work if you really want the quotes, but watch out for the misquotes! =)

It’s also a biblical idea that rings though in lots of scriptural passages like Acts 17 when Paul recognizes the religious nature of the people of Athens and in various bits of Ecclesiastes. Some have also linked teachings of Jesus to the idea, such as the “well of life-giving water” from within that he promises. And of course, it’s been sung, and sung and sung, by many in our lifetime.

Ok. I don’t have much of a complaint about that idea and have in fact felt an anecdotal affirmation of it in my own life. Yes, I have tried to walk away from faith, often to simply give myself some distance, but always have been inexorably pulled back. My doubt has always been as strong as my faith. I rest in a great tradition of faithful doubters involved in sacred vocation, Matthew 28:16-20. Still, I think there’s just as valid an idea and truth in these words: In each of us there is a need of one another that cannot be safely denied, completely ignored, or fully satisfied in anything but community.

In each of us there is a need of one another that cannot be safely denied,
completely ignored, or fully satisfied in anything but community.

There are many scriptural passages and themes that support this idea, and I’m happy to lay out a few that illustrate our need of one another and the value of practicing good community, found especially in the life of Jesus and community of the early disciples: Psalm 133; Micah 6:8; Matthew 5:13-16, 21-26, 43-48; Matthew 7:1-6; Matthew 22:34-40; John 11:1-44; John 13:1-20; Romans 13:8-10; Romans 14; Galatians 5:13-26; Ephesians 4:1-16; Colossians 3:1-17; and 1 John 4:7-21. And now think of the “communal correctives” embedded in the Ten Commandments and the teaching on prayer by Jesus: Exodus 20:1-17 & Matthew 6:5-15.

When I say I need you I really do mean it. We share life and we share caring, and that doesn’t lessen my value or expressiveness as an individual, but enhances and enlarges it. Yes, we are capable of doing community badly, but that doesn’t mean we no longer need community. The vast majority of religious moral and ethical ideas cannot find any fruition without our neighbor. And likewise, I believe that the deepest spiritual fulfillment, giving and receiving love, is also found with others.

I need you to give and receive love with me. My chosen vocation means that I am going to do everything in my human abilities to make that exchange pure and up-building. Pastors are never perfect, but in community, we find a rhythm of life and love that helps us share well. I’ll need your grace and your forgiveness at times. And you’ll have mine. I cannot be fully realized as a person, either religiously or spiritually, without you.

This is all exciting, scary and endlessly promising! And though it’s not always easy, community is always needful. Talk and I’ll listen. Share and I’ll hold your truths in confidence. Struggle and I will struggle along with you. Face victory and I’ll dance alongside you.

Life is ours.

AMDG, Todd

mother teresa of calcuttaP.S. And I love, love, LOVE me some Mother Teresa of Calcutta. She has a couple of a quotes that have become very dear to me, often shared and never old…

“Today, if we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”

And the Simple Path of Mother Teresa: “The fruit of silence is prayer, the fruit of prayer is faith, the fruit of faith is love, the fruit of love is service, the fruit of service is peace.”

The Thing Is, I Wanna Be Your Pastor

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Puzzle Cross BlueI have no idea what you think of when you hear the word “pastor.” I can hope you hear “pasture” and that you can imagine a shepherdess or a shepherd, and green fields with blue skies and cool air. I hope you don’t see an angry face of someone who lacks faith in you or lives to adjust you, change you or rule you. I hope you can imagine a person of grace, joy, humility and imperfection. I hope that you can imagine a friend and a companion.

I whipped up this image of a puzzle piece cross to emphasize that I believe in and trust in the scriptures that teach our completeness when together and our deep need of each other. Maybe we’ll explore some of those passages through July.

I want to be your pastor.

I want to be your pastor because I need you. Yes I’m paid to be a pastor, and I’m so blessed to have the opportunity to be supported as the pastor of a congregation, but that only meets the financial needs of my life and my family. It’s the people who choose to savor grace with me, those that carry me along with them and I carry them with me, who keep me choosing day after day and year after year to be a pastor.

pas·tor, noun 1. a minister or priest in charge of a church.
2. a person having spiritual care of a number of persons.

All through July of 2014 I’d like to work on some various expressions of why I’d like to be your pastor. You see, I want to be your pastor even if you don’t attend my congregation. I want to be your pastor even if you don’t call yourself a “Christian.” I want to do life with you and I offer myself to you as a friend, a neighbor and a pastor.

I don’t really like the “in charge” part of the above definition. I prefer the “spiritual care” part, but I don’t want you to think that liking the word spiritual implies that I have a dualistic sacred & profane, spiritual & secular divide for thinking about and doing life. Pastoring is a shared caring. We walk through all the things of life together and I don’t have a list of life’s stuff I don’t want to share with you.

It’s July 1st and if I’m your pastor, then hear me say that I am thrilled to be your pastor! I love the people with whom I am blessed to do life! And if you have never thought of me as your pastor, then think again. I’m at your service. I offer myself to you.

I’m not sure what all I’ll write about in July, but I’m excited to start the process of praying and thinking and expressing something I’ve wanted to blog about for a while: I want to be your pastor. Let me also invite you to ask me a question you’ve always wanted to ask a pastor. Something on your mind? I’m at your service.

Be safe this July 4th weekend, ok?

AMDG, Todd