Monday Morning Musings
After a long spell of warm weather in the Chicago area, there is finally a hint of winter chill. As much as I do not like the deep chill we get around here it is even more disconcerting to have such a warm winter. What are we doing to our environment? I once heard a comedian-social commentary say something like, if we think we are destroying the planet with pollution, we are wrong. We are destroying the planets capacity to support human life (and animal life, etc). But even once we are gone, the planet will remain and possibly some adaptive life forms, it's humans that will be extinct.
Society today. I am in the process of sharing with my parish the findings of research by Diana Butler Bass who speaks about our culture and Christianity, in particular renewal of spirituality and growth in membership for mainline churches. She counters the findings that support the mega-church influence with ideas for the rest of us in her book: Christianity for the Rest of Us. I have found her work to be very helpful in articulating what I am experiencing in my congregation. It's the "Go to church on Sunday, have a 'nice' time and go home." No deep involvement or commitment desired, no desire to be "changed, transformed" no desire to grow in faith. She argues against the media push to polarize the issue in churches between liberal and conservative agendas. She articulates a conflict between the "Established" voice of the church of the 1950's, that voice of authority, and the voice of the emerging church or as she calls the "Intentional Practicing" congregation. The Established church is dying, but those churches who are practicing ancient Christian disciplines (like; hospitality, discernment, testimony, social justice, etc) are growing, and not just in deeper faithful people, but in numbers. Her research shows this happening across denominational lines and across the liberal/conservative pole. Food for thought.
My work with my parish these days is all about discernment: what do they want? And only they can determine that. But also, what do I want? How much energy do I put into this parish? When is it time to say, I've done my job, and move on?
My health is slowly getting better. Eight weeks ago I was admitted into the hospital for an infection, I was there for 11 days. I remain on antibiotics, but no more PICC line, no more 4X daily IV therapy, now only one oral tablet a day. I am getting better. The scar from the surgery (just below the jaw bone on my right side, about 4 inches long) is healing, softening. The tissues affected by the surgery are regaining normal movement (no more stiff neck and face). As is the scar from the tracheotomy I had to have, since the infection invaded my jaw bone and muscle (running up the side of my face to the temple), my jaw shut and I could only open my mouth about 1/8 inch. For surgery they intibated me through my nose (yeh, yuck!!) and then they put a trach in during surgery in case of any additional emergency follow up surgery. Anyway, that too is healing. My energy is almost normal. Thanks be to God and thanks to all those who have prayed for and cared for me. Now, let's pray that when I end the antibiotics next Monday the infection does not return....
Job search. I have my name into four places searching for a new priest/rector. None of these are near where I currently live, three are west, one is east coast. Oy vay. I am in such a muddle. I hope for clarity, I pray for direction. All I have is confusion. And the majority of my energy is going into the place I currently serve, which probably needs to let me go and hire a part time priest....
Today is Monday, my day off, a day to rest. But I have to answer a bunch of questions for one of the search committtees and prepare for a big vestry meeting tomorrow night. And over the course of the week prepare two sermons, one for the congregation on Sunday, and one for our ecumenical Evensong to celebrate the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. This is our fifth year doing this service as the gather churches in our area, it is the first year I will preach. I'm going to preach on singing, on choirs, on blended voices harmonizing to create one beautiful sound - Christians all around uniting in that which makes us common, baptism and love of God in Christ.