I have a habit, developed over the years, of sitting down with myself at the beginning of each week and thinking about how I can be a positive influence upon the people I know and the world I live in. It’s kind of a meditation time for me. My current complaint is that it seems increasingly hard to do. I often end my time of meditation frustrated, certainly over-whelmed, and sometimes just angry and more up-set then I was to begin with. That’s not what quiet, meditation time is supposed to be like.
Right now I’m overwhelmed by the implications of the stream of refugees migrating by foot, boat, bus or cart, fleeing from the chaos in Libya, Afghanistan and other Middle East nations. Their only goal seems to be surviving long enough to enter any other nation willing to permit their entry. It is a human disaster and we all know the implications of this kind of influx into settled nations. We also know why the local governments are grappling with the issues of how, if, and when to become involved. Thousands of homeless people are suddenly standing at their borders with no means to care for themselves. We understand it. Some of us have been directly involved in this work along our paths of ministry. But this time it seems different to me. The wider implications of this “deportation” seem far more long-ranging and serious for the peace of the whole world than ever before. Welcoming countries will be confronted suddenly with the implications of integrating “different” people into the midst of the established order. It will be hard. Cultural and religious differences will be serious and long lasting. I am inspired and hopeful when I read that some nations are opening their gates and accepting the challenge.
I believe also that all of us in pastoral ministry will also be affected because the people we seek to minister to and support are very caught up in the drama. Many of these people will look to us for answers or at least a sensitivity to how we as Christians should be responding. Organizing Sunday Schools and planning for Sunday Worship will be getting a bit more stressful. In addition, as we all know, there are many other areas of life that remain challenging.
I’m new in this position of being the Pastor to Pastors. There are many things I don’t know yet about who we are. One of the things I will be seeking to learn is how we can together, begin building a greater sense of identity and community among ourselves as Pastors and leaders. Relationships are critical in the practice of ministry. I have always been strengthened and encouraged in ministry through helping relationships and I’m projecting that belief into my ideas for how to be helpful in this position. I believe all pastors and leaders benefit when they are able to talk with each other about the issues that stress us and cause us to “wonder” about the work we are called to do. I’m hoping in the next few months to offer some monthly or bi-monthly meetings where we can talk among ourselves about issues we are facing as leaders in the church. Maybe we could read or re-read Borg’s last book “Convictions”. I know the issues and the reluctances many of us have to even think of doing this; we are already too busy and we’ve done this before etc. I also believe it is necessary and important that we try, even if it’s “try again”. It looks like we might divide the Presbytery into 4 geographical areas; I would be the facilitator of a program discussion. All you would need to do is read and attend. To begin this I certainly will need your cooperation, help and ideas. You’ve all had experiences in this before. It isn’t new. Talk to me about your ideas. More importantly, plan to attend as I get these meetings organized.