Monday, June 12, 2006

Musings at the Front Desk

Friday and today I have been the "Rev. Receptionist". I think I prefer this to the "Rev. Copy boy", and it is not as labor intensive as being "Rev. Casual Furniture" (setting up show rooms for "Casual furniture" show rooms at the Mart, you know this furniture as patio furniture). Rev. Receptionist has the perk of the internet. This particular office is not heavy in incoming calls, which means that I can spend more time than usual reading blogs and surfing the net.

So, I have been over to Cammasia who I have not read in a long time, she's musing about Prince, I think she is dead on in her evaluation. And if you go back a few posts she has some interesting things to say about culture. Over at This is Live there is a continuing soteriological diablog between Clifton and Kevin, and Thomas liked the movie A Prairie Home Companion. There are other tidbits I have gleaned from the day that I have now forgotten.

I have read some profound thoughts, and some light hearted and frivolous things. A day of reception and my mind is full. Full of information and other peoples musings and ideas. People with whom I have occasional, little or no contact outside cyberspace. But my thoughts actually turn to the small congregation I co-pastor, and the intentional community I belong to and lead. Some of what I have read today connects to these groups of people I see daily and weekly, some of it seems distant and removed. But what connects it all is me sitting here at the reception desk, waiting for the day to be over and to go to the meeting of Reconciler's council this evening.
I don't know if there is a point to this musing except that I found myself getting frustrated over some of what I read today, not because there was anything particularly distasteful about what was said as that I couldn't integrate what was being presented with the pastoral realities I face and this interesting little firm. The theological and philosophical ideas being put forth and argued seemed oddly distant. Yet, the frustration was further compounded because I believe those ideas are important for life, but sometimes it seems we can speak, write and publish almost as if these discussions sort of simply float out here in cyberspace, and that argument and expression are all that count, or perhaps at best in throwing this text out into cyberspace we are somehow getting at the truth. Truth... that sticky thing that is somehow more concrete than information and and arguments over and our ideas of it. We want to assert it, discover it, but don't quite like others to assert it over or against our own ideas.

Perhaps all this is to say that I find pastoring an act of affirmation. A couple of weeks ago, one of the members of Reconciler, talked about a book he read that used the metaphor of a brick wall to talk about the Christian belief system: various propositions equal the bricks that make up this wall, and he talked about how this author encouraged the examination of the individual bricks and how taking one out didn't necessarily make the whole wall crumble. The pro's and con's of this image aside, I both found the idea strange and remember that there was a time when that metaphor would have partially described my approach to the faith. I ended up saying in response to this that I thought I remembered approaching faith in this way but that at some point after seminary I put the last brick of the virgin birth back into the wall and walked into the wall and discovered that the faith wasn't a wall at all but the very support of my life, like the ocean for a fish.

I feel that to some extent the priestly and pastoral ministry is to encourage a movement from wall to ocean. It's not that there aren't things to examine or that I still don't from time to time struggle with certain dogmas and doctrines, but there is more to faith than constant examination and argument. At somepoint you have to let it all support you or not. At some point the Church is either where you live or it isn't. I won't claim to know when that point should come, but I hope I can witness that it should come.

That is at least how things look today from the front desk where Rev. Receptionist is a ready to step into the stream again after watching the world pass him by all day.