CHRIST IN WINTER: Reflections on Faith for the Years of Winter… ©
God is no longer the only one who can say “I am who I am.” [Exodus 3:14.] Now I’m saying it, too.
When I first retired, and we started following the grandchildren, I tried to keep my super-hero status a secret, because that is what super-heroes do. Well, it wasn’t so much “super-hero” as “old preacher” status I didn’t want people to find out about. When folks find out you are a super-hero or a preacher, they make certain assumptions, and super-heroes and preachers alike want to be accepted for who we are. We don’t want to have to live up to assumptions about jumping tall buildings or dampening the party.
So in my new venues, towns where I was known only as Brigid’s and Joe’s grandfather, in groups of community theater and softball and pickleball and folk music, where I was not known at all, I was vague if people asked what I had done to earn my way in days gone by.
It wasn’t that I was ashamed either of being a Christian or a preacher.
Being a Christian is a hoot. It’s really neat to get to live a life of wholeness, without having to drag a load of shame and hate around. Unfortunately, in our culture, Christians are usually seen as those who put the load of shame and hate on others instead of living without it and helping to remove it from others. I did not want to deal with that cultural identity of Christians. I just wanted to sing and act and play ball, have a good time. That’s what you are supposed to do if you are a follower of Jesus. After all, it was Jesus who said, “I’m here; let’s party.” [John 10:10.]
Being a pastor is a joy, too. Getting to walk with people on their journeys, being with them at their highest and lowest points, that’s a great gift to anyone. Preachers get to do that every day. Sure, you have to put up with some disagreeable people, but who doesn’t? Again, however, unfortunately, preachers are seen in our culture as grim and narrow-minded joy-killers, not as the pied piper of fun. You don’t want people you’ve just met to start avoiding you because they find out what you did before you picked a peck of pickle paddles.
Pickleball, though, is how this came up. One of my fellow pickleball buddies is Connie Shakalis, a cabaret and musicals singer before she semi-retired. [“Semi” is the operative word here. That woman can still sing!] In some conversation with Stella and Tom and the rest of the gang on the sidelines the other day, my former life came up. Connie said, “You’re a preacher? Pardon my incredulity.”
I thought, “How neat, both that she finds it unbelievable, and that she knows. I get to show everybody that you can smash a forehand and have a jolly good time doing it, as an old preacher of the very good news that life is good.”
I was never ashamed, of either my faith or my profession, even when I was trying to hide them under a bushel. I just wanted the chance to be myself before folks assumed I was somebody else. But Christian and preacher, those are who I am, and I am who I am. Maybe that’s the best good news of all.
I am also a writer, so when I became disturbed by the huge number of military suicides, both veterans and active duty, I wrote VETS, [all CAPS] about four handicapped and homeless Iraqistan veterans accused of murdering a VA doctor. It’s a darn good tootin’ adventure mystery story. My royalties go to helping prevent veteran suicides. You can buy it at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc. Reader alert: There are bad words in the book. Being a preacher, I, of course, would not use such words, but the characters in the book do.
I tweet as yooper1721.