Saturday, November 27, 2010

See You Next Year

I'm putting mrs pastor on hiatus until January. I'm deep into chemo and it's wearing on me. I expect to have my last treatment around the middle of January and every day I make new plans about what I'll do when I can stop doing this (muddle, muddle, collapse, muddle).

God bless you and your Christmas celebration. See you in 2011.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


There are a zillion things I would like to write about, but I lack the energy to compose anything. Chemotherapy drains me to the very bottom. So I'm sharing an excerpt from Dietrich Bonhoeffer's Life Together. The emphasis on the last sentence is mine.

Our righteousness is an 'alien righteousness,' a righteousness that comes from outside of us . . . the Christian is dependent on the Word of God spoken to him . . . God has put this Word into the mouth of men in order that it may be communicated to other men. When one person is struck by the Word, he speaks it to others. God has willed that we should seek and find His living Word in the witness of a brother, in the mouth of man. Therefore, the Christian needs another Christian who speaks God's Word to him. He needs him again and again when he becomes uncertain and discouraged, for by himself he cannot help himself without belying the truth. He needs his brother man as a bearer and proclaimer of the divine word of salvation. He needs his brother solely because of Jesus Christ. The Christ in his own heart is weaker than the Christ in the word of his brother; his own heart is uncertain, his brother's is sure.
I am finding this to be absolutely true and difficult for me. If I must depend on God, please let me depend on God only! But God has designed us to need one another. Dang it.

Monday, November 1, 2010

A Place of Mercy and Grace

The pastor who preached at my husband's installation is familiar with the miserable situation out of which we came. After the service we spoke briefly and he assured me that there would be challenges at this new congregation, "but I pray this will be a place of mercy and grace for you."

I think of that often. So far it seems to be so. The general mood of the place seems to be confidence in God's work among and through the congregation.

A couple of weeks ago we had a visiting pastor. His sermon referenced the parable of the pharisee and the tax collector from Luke chapter 18:
To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’

“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

How often, in our last congregation, I felt like the tax collector! It's strange for me to say, since I grew up attending church and have, as far as anyone else could tell, a well-behaved life. But there I constantly felt inadequate.

The tone of the sr. pastor's sermons, conversations, aspirations for the congregation seemed to be that the members of our church were set apart, closer to God than others. I would not have been surprised to hear him say in a sermon, "God, I thank you that the people of this congregation are not like other people. We follow your laws and deserve your attention. Help us make other people more like us."

It sounds so appalling that you'd think some among us could have rioted, but in practice it is insidious. It happens gradually, it's hard to identify exactly what's going on, and then one day you wake up and realize you feel less than. Less good than other people in your church. Less obedient. Less worthy of any blessings.

Being now in a congregation that, to my eyes, seems loving and merciful and humble causes me a different kind of pain. I am ever more aware of how lacking mercy and humility our last congregation was. I grieve for the years we spent there and for the dear people who might be misled by what is happening there.