Early on in my reading I came upon this sentence: "The essential thing 'in heaven and earth' is... that there should be a long obedience in the same direction; there thereby results, and has always resulted in the long run, something that has made life worth living." That struck me as a text I could live with. I saw myself assigned to give witness to the sheer liveability of the Christian life, that everything in scripture and Jesus was here to be lived. In the mess of work and sin, of families and neighborhoods, my task was to pray and give direction and encourage that lived quality of the gospel -- patiently, locally, and personally. Patiently: I would stay with these people; there are no quick or easy ways to do this. Locally: I would embrace the conditions of this place -- economics, weather, culture, schools, whatever -- so that there would be nothing abstract or piously idealized about what I was doing. Personally: I would know them, know their names, know their homes, know their families, know their work -- but I would not pry, I would not treat them as a cause or a project, I would treat them with dignity. Preaching, of course, is part of it, teaching is part of it, administering a congregation as a community of faith is part of it. But the overall context of my particular assignment in the pastoral vocation, as much as I am able to do it, is to see to it that these men and women in my congregation become aware of the possibilities and the promise of living out in personal and local detail what is involved in following Jesus, and be a companion to them as we do it together.
Yeah... that pretty well sums up what I wanted to do to. I wonder what happened? I wonder if I can start over?