The above is a well known quip about Pastors and the pattern of their week, but over the last 9 months or so it has become the pattern of us all. Unable to meet physically for worship or in how we love our town we have become both invisible and incomprehensible to each other. We’ve discovered it’s not as easy as it once was to ask ‘How are you?’ or to encourage each other and so it’s easy to know how we are each coping, or not, with the pressure and demands of life.
To be invisible and incomprehensible is difficult. It is easy to feel alone; to feel isolated; to feel unwanted; to feel worthless; to feel not understood. If any of this rings a bell in you, then welcome to the world I choose to live in and why I enjoy delivering the weekly material to those not on line or play carols in the street with my family. When I do this it gives me an opportunity to be neither invisible nor incomprehensible.
This title for the next series of blogs is from a book by Eugene Peterson called ‘The Pastor’. I will quote from his book as a way of helping you hear the voice of Jesus as you work through what it means to feel invisible and incomprehensible. I’m using these quotes because they resonated within me within this Six days invisible; one day incomprehensible world I live in.
The first one which leapt out at me is by a ministerial student who had been listening to Peterson in a seminar as he described this invisible and incomprehensible dynamic. I hope it speaks to you too.
“Let me tell you what I have been saying, without saying anything out loud. When I get a congregation, I want to be a patient pastor. I want to have eyes to see and ears to hear what God is doing and saying in their lives. I don’t want to judge them in terms of what I think they should be doing. I want to be a witness to what God is doing in their lives, not a schoolmistress handing out grades for how well they are doing something for God. I think I see something unique about being a pastor that I had never noticed: the pastor is the one person in the community who is free to take men and women seriously just as they are, appreciate t hem just as they are, give them the dignity that derives from being the ‘image of God,’ a God-created being who has eternal worth without having to prove usefulness or be good for anything. I know that I will be doing a lot of other things too, but I might be the only person who is free to do this. I don’t want to be so impatient with the mess that I am not around to see the miracle being formed. I don’t want to conceive of my life as pastor so functionally that the mystery gets squeezed out of both me and the congregation.”