25 November 2009

Grey and Ugly

This is yesterday, figuratively and actually. Grey, rainy, and ugly, at least for a good portion of the day. I don't like days like this.

There were many contributing factors. In no particular order:

- a good friend was ousted from her church in a craptastic display of wrong thinking about the nature of ministry and the role of the pastor (CEO? Absolutely not!). She might not use the word "ousted," but I certainly will.

- the NE Iowa Synod Council approved two resolutions attempting to retain the ministry standards currently in effect in the ELCA, effectively barring non-celibate gays and lesbians from any congregation in the synod. Normally it wouldn't bother me so much, but each of the Iowa synods contributes roughly 33% of our campus ministry financial support, and it honestly feels like it would be tainted money if these resolutions were approved at their Synod Assembly.

- In the midst of these harsh times, a number of folks at the ELCA Churchwide office were let go/fired/downsized/whatever. This happens - it's not particularly newsworthy. What IS newsworthy is the video and letter released by Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson. Calling it pablum would be offensive to pablum. I like our Presiding Bishop. He generally seems to understand how to navigate the currents (and there are many) of our church. But in this case, whoever is responsible for writing these pastoral letters and putting together these videos completely missed the boat. Burying one extremely vague sentence about budget cuts in a mishmash of local success stories and fluffy grace talk is not pastoral, Bishop; your church deserves the honest truth and dignified leadership it received at the Churchwide Assembly. Frankly, I expected better.

These are just a few of the things that had me down in the mouth yesterday. At our weekly text study meeting one of my colleagues asked me if I had PMS (God bless colleagues with a wicked sense of humor!). But then we discussed the texts, and I said something to the effect of "Jesus is reminding us that we aren't responsible for the redemption of the world - that's God's business. We are called to faithfully wait with hope for what God promises." That same colleague looked at me and said, "Did you hear what you just said? Preacher, heal thyself!" And last night, we gathered to break bread with five students who were still in town (many have already headed home to family for Thanksgiving holidays). We had a wonderful meal and even better conversation.

It's amazing how good conversation among friends can lift your spirits. Be they the wise, gracious colleagues in my text study or the joyful, energetic students it is my privilege to serve, they are a blessing to me, and I can only hope I return the blessing in some small way. Yesterday was grey and ugly, and today has started the same. The problems remain as well, but God is with us, stumble though we may, and in God there is a promise that grey and ugly will not remain forever.

Grace & peace,


  1. seriously dude, you need a beer. i am on my second.

  2. Trust me, I'll get there soon - but there's work to be done beforehand. After the Thanksgiving service tonight I'll be sipping a nice frosty Boston Lager, never you fear.