31 March 2009

Lenten Journal: Chewing On the Word

But now hear, O Jacob my servant,
Israel whom I have chosen!
Thus says the Lord who made you,
who formed you in the womb and will help you:
Do not fear, O Jacob my servant,
Jeshurun whom I have chosen.
For I will pour water on the thirsty land,
and streams on the dry ground;
I will pour my spirit upon your descendants,
and my blessing on your offspring.
They shall spring up like a green tamarisk,
like willows by flowing streams.
Isaiah 44.1-4

Tuesday afternoons are text study afternoons at the Lutheran Center. Clergy from area congregations (not all of them Lutheran, but the majority are) come for coffee, treats if anyone brings them, and conversation. The talk is usually about the texts and what they might or might not mean/suggest towards preaching - but it never starts at that point.

Like most pastor gatherings, we start by checking in with each other. Text study is the one place where a pastor can declaim, "Well, that's just horseshit!" and not worry about being called before the church council the next day (and if you think your pastor doesn't use such language, chances are you're dead wrong, my friend). Our time together isn't merely for expelling all the pent-up profanity, however; we take time to laugh together, to bear one another's burdens, to be colleagues in a profession where that sort of time is hard to come by and more precious than gold.

At some point, one of us breaks out her/his Bible in a somewhat pointed fashion, and we know that it's time we delved into the appointed texts for the week. Then the fun really starts. Today's gathering was especially delightful, challenging and fulfilling. We discussed the positive and negative aspects of Palm/Passion Sunday, of Holy Week observance, of what Jesus meant when he rode into Jerusalem on a jackass, what it means for us to be participants in the empire Jesus was likely protesting. We chewed on the Word today: we masticated what it means to be nearing Palm Sunday and savored each and every delicious flavor the Word had to offer before we reluctantly went our separate ways.

If your pastor isn't regularly meeting with other clergy to discuss his or her sermons, give them a nudge in that direction. Not all gatherings are as healthy as ours has come to be lately, but pulling sermons out of your own head without input from others leaves you parched and dry eventually. I know fellow pastors can sometimes be a pain in the ass, but I honestly don't know how I'd survive in this profession without colleagues on whom I can depend - they water my dry ground with the gifts they bring to interpreting the text and the world in which we live, and today I'm profoundly grateful.

Grace & peace,

1 comment:

  1. I know some of the folks in your picture! :) I miss them! I agree with how important this gathering can be. Unfortunately for me, the other pastors in my area aren't as excited about this. We have a group of 3, but that's not ideal--especially if one has to be gone.