The Absent-Minded Pastor

My youngest wandered into our bedroom this morning as I was ignoring the alarm and asked me to pray that he “not be sick anymore.” I mumbled yes and he went downstairs to see his sisters as they were getting ready for school.

I didn’t realize he was sick. I mean, he had a cold a week or so ago, but didn’t seem to be snorting around anymore. I could be allergies. Mine have been crazy, Marjorie–who doesn’t have allergies–has been sneezing and wandering around with red, itchy eyes, and the cedar and juniper pollen levels are in fine form. Could be that.

Or it could be I need to investigate a little after school.

The irony of all this is that for the past three days I have been trying to be more intentional and present and engaged with life and my surroundings. I have a tendency to drift off and think about everything but what’s in front of me, I’ve noticed, and it is not good for remembering things or getting things done or for much of anything but solving whatever problem I am thinking about.

So it is time to wake up again and look around. As Ferris once said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop to look around once in a while, you might miss it.”

Playing God?

Setting up a saltwater aquarium has been consuming much of my free time since January 14 when I poured the first bucket of sea water into my 55 gallon tank. Since then I’ve tested, tested, and tested the water, saved money for needed supplies and researched what I need to do. I’ve learned some marine biology, some chemistry and looked at dozens of photos of beautiful tanks in the evenings and weekends.

Right now I have all the sand and rock I need and am waiting for the chemistry of the tank to settle. Once that happens, and I have enough saved up, I will purchase my first fish: two clownfish, and some snails and shrimp to act as a “clean-up-crew”.

“You’re playing God, you know,” Dad said, watching the lightning whelk crawl across the side of the glass. “You’re trying to recreate what He’s already done, setting up this little mini-ocean, trying to do everything God does in nature.”

He was kidding, but it is one way of looking at it, I suppose. But I don’t really think that’s it. I think of it as setting up a little cube of ocean in my living room, understanding what God does on a massive scale every day, understanding all the processes and requirements that we take for granted so often.

Early into this I decided that setting this tank up would be a good project for me in appreciating Creation, and a good project for the kids to learn about the ocean, about biodiversity, about pollution and, well, stewardship of the world. That is what human’s first job was after all, to name the animals, tend the garden and generally look after the place. What is sitting in my family room is an undersea garden.

Parenthood and Passions

I am still thinking about the article from Fr. Tobias that I read (and posted to FB a little while ago).Controlling the passions is not something Lutherans talk much about, but it is definetaly a Scriptural way of talk ingy about our sinful natures. But most importantly his post addressed the importance of modeling our behavior to our children. They respond the way we seem the respond.

I’ve seen the same thing with myself…not as a kid, but now as I relate to my own kids and hear myself sounding just like my dad. Sometimes this is good, and sometimes I wince as I hear myself adopting the same tone he did. We’ve all been through that, anyway, if you’re old enough.

What is harder to see is how your current behavior is modeled by your kids, how your impatience makes them impatient, how your disdain for chores makes them disdain them, how we unconsciously do the things we hate and see the kids doing what we hate.

The cross is the only solution to this, in crucifying ourselves, our passions, our sins and selfish conniption fits. The cross, and prayer, of course, in seeking help from the Rock of all strength.

What Do You Actually Do at Work?

My eldest asked me the question last night. She was watching TV with us and luxuriating in having a second day off from school. I mentioned I had to go into work tomorrow and she asked what I did all day.

So I gave her the run-down of what I had planned for today:

1. Devotions

2. Two or three letters to write, including two transfers

3. The statistical report for the Synod.

4. A few phone calls to sick/shut-in members to check on them.

5. This blog to maintain (yes, not a hobby but part of my ministry, as I consider it).

6. Lunch time!

7. Back at the office to go over liturgy, readings, propers for Sunday, work on the rough drafts from the bulletin the Secretary sent last week, send those to the Director of Music.

8. Email, glance at the news, go through snail mail, filing.

The last hour or two of the afternoon is relatively free, at this point. I can study, begin Lenten preparations, catch up on my Sunday Bible study preparation, or make a shut-in visit or something.

But it is now 10:12 as I type this and here is what I’ve actually accomplished:

1. Devotions

2. Long visit with the contractor who is here to begin our remodeling project(!). Discussion of some logistical issues, including a few things we hadn’t considered, answering some of his questions, discussion of the glass and its weight and his philosophy on snow delays :). I’m impressed with him and glad I visited with him.

3. One letter completed, though not printed, a discussion with the secretary on what I talked about with the contractor.

4. This post.

But it’s a good morning anyway.picture of my desk

The Resurrection and the Life

Phillip raised an important question in his comment on the previous post: what is the relationship between bad–or no–teaching and rejection of teaching begin?

First, church members need to make sure they are reading Scripture. Pastors can teach all they can till they are blue in the face, but if Christians are not reading the Word of God, actively attending to it, then all kinds of falsehood and wrong impressions can fester. Bible study is an important tool as well.

Second, Pastors need to make sure they are speaking Scripturally when it comes to speaking about death and the resurrection. I try to avoid saying that we will “go to Heaven when we die” because Scripture does not speak like that much. It can be misunderstood as well. We need to make sure we speak about the resurrection and speak about the work of Christ in terms of resurrection, not just forgiveness and Heaven, as if that is all there is.

So what do you do if your pastor is not teaching well? Ask him, in a loving way. You could say, “Hey Pastor, it seems to me that I don’t hear much about the resurrection of the dead in your sermons. Am I missing it? What do you think about it?” Stating it this way puts the fault in the hearer and invites him to teach you there on the spot and to share what is on his mind.

Any other ideas?