Thursday, September 13, 2012

The pastor's wife and the congregation...

I've been reading Eugene Peterson's fantastic book 'The Pastor: A Memoir.' I had heard several people rave about it, and Jane read it and raved about it, so I finally started. Oh my. I'm sure it's different since I too am a pastor, but I REALLY, REALLY, REALLY, REALLY like this book. I have yet to read a Peterson book I didn't like, but this one is good. It has short little chapters (so far), so I only read one or two a day. And it just... slows me down. I don't know how to describe it, but it seems like time just stops while I'm reading; and it's so peaceful, and holy, and... good.

Anyway, yesterday I read two chapters, and among the million other things I underlined were two gems dealing with the "pastor's wife" and the "congregation." First, the pastor's wife (p. 95):
For Jan [his wife], 'pastor's wife' was not just being married to a pastor; it was far more vocational than that, a way of life. It meant participation in an intricate web of hospitality, living at the intersection of human need and God's grace, inhabiting a community where men and women who didn't fit were welcomed, where neglected children were noticed, where the stories of Jesus were told, and people who had no stories found that they did have stories, stories that were part of the Jesus story. Being a pastor's wife would place her strategically yet unobtrusively at a heavily trafficked intersection between heaven and earth.

I just love that. And I can remember when that's what Jane and I thought church work would be like; and could be like; and... maybe can be like.

Then on p. 107 he is talking about when he started his first church. He says...
We're a congregation. We're looking for meaning to our lives. We catch a thread of the plot and begin to follow it, receiving the good news that God is gracious, receiving the sacraments of God's actions in our actual lives. And then we bump up against someone else's story that we don't even recognize as a story and are thrown off balance. Distracted, we stumble. ...This is my workplace... And every once in a while a shaft of blazing beauty seems to break out of nowhere and illuminates these companies...

I don't know... I think this is good stuff. It has made me actually want to be a pastor; it's made me like being a pastor; like leading a congregation. And not to get totally sappy, but I just might even begin to love the church again. It's at least made me have a more positive outlook. Yeah...