Iron Mountain ski jump

Iron Mountain ski jump

Wednesday, January 17, 2018


CHRIST IN WINTER: Reflections on Faith and Life for the Years of Winter…

 In a church I pastored, the Nominating Committee wanted to ask a particular young woman to take a major leadership position. I was not in favor. I did not know her well, but I did not doubt her competence. My qualms were about her schedule. She had two children and a busy husband. I knew that when Helen was her age and had two children and a busy husband, she would have been appalled at the thought of taking on that kind of responsibility. When the nominating committee’s head hunter returned, however, she said the young woman had readily agreed.

She did an excellent job. At the end of her term, I was chatting with her husband one day after worship and mentioned how well she had done. He said, “Well, the only reason she took that job was that she wanted to work with you.”

I was amazed. Someone was willing to do a difficult and time-consuming and thankless job just to work with me? Then I was amazed at my amazement. Why not? That’s why we do most things, to be with people we like or want to learn from.

I had known and preached for years that our identities are formed by our relationships. I was not surprised if a person appreciated my pastoral care, from talking about their problems to receiving a supportive home or hospital visit. I was not surprised if someone came to worship because they liked me and wanted to hear me preach. Indeed, I tried to be likeable and to preach well in order to get that result.

But I liked pastoral care and preaching. I did not like church administration--committee meetings and all that. My own negative feelings toward church ad made me assume everyone felt like that. It did not occur to me that the same sort of personal relationships—with others and God—that I espoused and tried to practice in pastoring and preaching could be present in church administration.

To me, church business, church administration—especially committee meetings—was just something to endure because it was necessary.

I learned from that young woman that relationships are relationships, regardless of the setting. We can support and learn from one another—grow in our relation to others and to God--in a meeting or the kitchen, as much as in a worship service or a wedding or a funeral.

“Where two or three are gathered together [even in a committee] there am I in the midst of them,” says Jesus.


Spoiler Alert: If you have read this column in the last 3 months, all that follows is old news:

I tweet occasionally as yooper1721.

I stopped writing this column for a while, for several reasons. It wasn’t until I had quit, though, that I knew this reason: I did not want to be responsible for wasting your time. If I write for others, I have to think about whether it’s worthwhile for you to read. If I write only for myself, it’s caveat lector. If you choose to read something I have written, but I have not advertised it, not asked you to read it, and it’s poorly constructed navel-gazing drivel, well, it’s your own fault. Still, I apologize if you have to ask yourself, “Why did I waste time reading this?”

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