Monday, June 11, 2007


Bible School is coming along well – I think!I guess I won’t know until it is finished.I am enjoying having lots to do. Although I do not get to be with people in the church as much as I would like since I feel this push to get bible school done.I am not really a very good details person.I am more of a big idea person who can come up with what to do, and is happy to let others do it. That is sort of what I am doing here, but I need to make sure all the details are covered…and that is making me nervous!I know God is in here somewhere- but the old cliché about who is in the details is probably really true. So, it makes it harder to see God when you are nit picking about making sure there will be enough tacky glue for the Saturday project for bible school weekend.

The details.

I spent some time with a pastor/ friend this week who pointed out the obvious to me about what I was doing detail-wise this summer.How terrible and wonderful to have someone in your life who will point out the underbelly of your hard work.Show you where you are making it about you and not about God.I have to say it was hard to take.But at the same time who else would do that?Ah, no one.That’s who.Holy friendship as our good Dean Jones points out is a tough job.She is holding me back to be sure.But only so that I stop and see my beautiful family; so I stop and remember to read a book for fun this summer (shudder at the thought); so I stop and maybe see the really beautiful opportunities that are waiting for me, but that can be accomplished in a way that leads to Sabbath – to resting in God.Rather than frittering away my salvation like some puritan on a mission, I should see that God is in the details… and be at peace.The thing is, the people I want to serve (someday and the ones I am working with this summer) need me to be the kind of pastor who does see God --- and not a pastor who is anxious about every little thing or who is too ambitious to notice who this is really all about.

Two weeks ago I was blessed to serve my family communion.I had never done that before.I pressed the bread first into the callused hands of several farmers: “The body of Christ broken for you.”reminded me of Dr. Lischer’s book so much.Then the middle aged widow of the country doctor whose eyes were so incredibly blue and so incredibly sad: “The body of Christ broken for you.”And I thought, “The communion of saints, here for you.”Then my little family came up like stair steps.I bent down to give four year old Dave bread, “The body of Christ, broken for you,” I said.“Tanks” he said quietly, seriously.Then Luke so grown up with a big sweet grin and “Amen” just like the adults.Then Susanna.“The body of Christ broken for you,” I said trying at this point not to cry.But instead of “Amen” she said, “Please Mommy, give me a big piece.I am really hungry.”

And I think that is the message that my friend has been trying to teach me over the last couple of years, and part of what my supervisor is trying to teach me this summer.While I want immersion in this experience of ministry, the reality for me is that I am mostly someone’s mommy.I am called to be a pastor to rural church folk.I am also called to be a pastor but, mostly a mommy, to this little band of raga-muffins who call me "Mom."

I didn’t give Susanna a bigger piece of bread than I gave anyone else that morning…but I need to remember to give her as much Christ as she can stomach – and for a while more of me than I give others.It is a delicate dance.But – if in ministering to the world, I forget to minister to my family, what will be gained? What kind of life am I modeling for others? If instead, we can live into this fish-bowl of a life together, then surely God will see to it that there is enough of me and enough of Christ to go around. It is about abundant life - not a burned out life.

I am starting to get it.Thanks be to God for pastors who care to spend a lot of their time nurturing others (when I know there was a sermon to write) for nothing more than love of neighbor and love of God.Grant that I can learn these lessons well enough not to forget them in the midst of the details or in the flush of success. Maybe this is a lesson only for second career students, but I really don't think so. I wish for all of my friends in field ed - the joy of an immersed experience this summer - and for those of us with families - the joy of both serving and living sabbath.


Anonymous said...

What a lovely post, Leah. Thank you.

Emily Sanford, MSW/MDiv, '08 said...

What a wonderful friend to help you learn the rhythms of Sabbath! It's one of my learning goals this summer as well to try to be invested in ministry while taking time to nourish my own body, mind, and soul. Thanks especially for sharing about serving your family communion-may we all come to the table hungry for more of God.