Friday, August 26, 2005

From the ground up

NB: This appears in my church's newsletter as my monthly pastoral letter to the congregation.

Lately, I’ve been having “writer’s block” when preparing my sermons. So, instead of banging my head against my computer, I’d go for a walk, or visit the hospital, or meet someone for coffee. Just to get my mind off the stress of having NOTHING to say about the bible passages; knowing that Sunday is coming whether I’m prepared or not!

Without fail, I meet someone along the way who tells me a story about their life that illumines the bible passage I’m wrestling with, and it’s like I’ve taken off my sunglasses – I see scripture very differently. Whether it’s someone who hasn’t been to church in years, a person who’s been diagnosed with a difficult illness or stranger at the hospital who stops me and asks me to pray for a sick parent, I feel like the bible is intersecting with life in ways that my feeble brain cannot conceive.

I feel like my ministry is becoming closer to the ground – slower – and less calculated.

I’m at ground level because I’m walking more often. You may have noticed that my belly is protruding over my belt. Too many goodies and too little exercise. So I leave the car at home and I make my way around town under my own steam. Leaving just a little less exhaust.

Being at ground level makes me feel more visible and vulnerable. I’ve found that’s it’s not always safe down here. There are a lot of people down here. Forgotten people. Invisible people.

People stop me on the street and want to talk. I’m glad to. Some just want to unload. Some want to tell me a dirty joke – just to get a rise out the guy with a dog collar. Other times, people lock eye contact with me, and I know they want to share something with me - a deep hurt, a secret wound, and unfulfilled longing – but don’t want to me to make the first move.

I’ve been re-learning that the gospel is always ground level. I’ve been driving past stories of pain and healing, sin and forgiveness, life and death, and been missing out where God silently and gently working.

So, if during the week, you need to find me, look down to the ground. And maybe you can find your way down there as well. Maybe together we can learn how to be messengers of good news from the ground up.

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