Thursday, February 09, 2006

No Such Thing as a Village Pastor

Villages may have Supervisors, but they do not have Pastors. It is Churches that have Pastors, and it is best of Churches do not have Supervisors or other Politicians.

This thought, easily misunderstood, came to me this week due to several civic appearances offered me. I was offered to speak at the kickoff meeting for the American Cancer Society walk-a-thon. Then a phone call came asking if I would give an invocation at the beginning of a triathlon at 7 a.m. this Sunday morning. Two messages were left this past week on the answering machine from unknown ladies, seeking a venue and (I assume) an official for Spring and Summer weddings.

On the one hand, I am thankful for various opportunities to minister and serve. But holding firmly in mind that my first responsibility is to serve Christ, not just the public, my message in each instance may come across as a bit im-politic.

I believe that the fight against cancer is a worthy pursuit. I also want to say that escaping cancer is not near so important as knowing the One who has defeated death, and that to survive cancer only to experience hell is a very small victory.

I admire those who train and endure great pain in order to compete in a triathlon (though I don’t understand these people). As I think about how to compose a prayer to serve as an invocation (invoking the name, presence and help of God) for this situation, I am compelled to ask that these individuals may somehow be moved to take at least a measure of the drastic steps to improve their souls as they have their bodies, and that this Lord’s Day event might be given over to some consideration of the Holy Trinity even as they immerse themselves in a machoistic, masochistic trilogy of competition.

And as I talk with currently unknown-to-me couples who want to get married, I undersand that they are under great stress and pressure to put together an event that is made of up of countless, critical details. And with all this on their minds, they have little patience to listen to me say what is most on my mind, that the very best preparation for their marriage is to deal with their current divorce from God, and that the love and submission patterns described in the Bible do not make much sense if one is not a follower of Christ.

No, villages do not have pastors. Nor do they really want them, at least not this kind. But it is partly up to you, congregation, to make sure that this pastor doesn’t backslide into being a politician.