Friendship and Pastoring: What they have in common

My mom’s best friend had an abortion, this was back in those days when abortions were even more frowned upon.

She admitted it, later, because she didn’t feel like my mom would approve, due to her Christian beliefs (my mom is now a Presbyterian Pastor)

420 × 294 – rottenecards.com

At that moment, my mom realized that she couldn’t be there as a friend, because she was perceived as being too judgmental….And this woman really needed a friend right then. When a girl from an abusive family gets pregnant an abortion might be the safest option…(or not)

But the point is, that my mom, was not perceived as a friend. It was at this moment my mom realized, she never wanted people to think they couldn’t talk to her, because she was going to be judging them. After all, what kind of friend does that?

She then went on to realize that pastoring has a similar action.
I never preach my political views from the pulpit, instead I preach the Bible and open my door to any who want to struggle to interpret how it works (which is why its dicey to have church facebook friends, because I do some of my political stuff there….but I don’t really mind as long as people realize its my freedom of speech space)….

If I preach all for or all against abortion and you are on the opposite side of the aisle, you probably will feel like you can’t talk to me when you have problems in that area…just like you want friends who will talk to you, you also want a congregation that can talk to you (in fact if anyone has a problem with me, I ask them to tell a session member or *more preferably* me directly about it, so I can address it..what’s the point of a pastor you can’t talk to?)

I will admit, I do have some boundaries, human rights are definitely something I feel comfortable ascribing as a part of Christianity, preaching hate as the Gospel is DEFINITELY off limits, but other than that I (try) to be someone you can talk to…..

After all, I really DO like to talk 🙂

Where is God???

 

In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.” When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet: ‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel.’” Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.”

When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road. –Matthew 2:1-12

 

When the wise men asked Herod where God was, they were not asking an idle or philosophical question. Instead they believed that Christ was present on earth, and were actively seeking his location. Today when we ask where God is, it tends to be a more philosophical question. Where is God when we feel alone? Where is Christ when tragedies happen to children in Connecticut? Where is the Holy Spirit when the catholic (world) church is so divided, and seems to split at the drop of a hat?

 

First, I don’t have an easy answer to these hard questions. What I do know is that God has a plan, and God’s plan does not include death, tragedy or violence. However, everything is not as good as God is, and God’s plan is not the one we hold primary in our lives (unfortunately). Secondly, if you are angry at God, then do so! God knows what to do with your anger. Did you know that 2/3rds of the Psalms are about being angry at God! (Note how we often assume that the anger is God’s–God is angry at us, or sinners, or other random people–maybe the problem is that we are angry with God and we cannot admit it…(for more on this watch the movie “Saved” see where one girl clocks another with the Bible…)

(Note the girl’s response is the hold the Bible and say “this is not a weapon” i.e. real love)

Life is unfair, and God created us, God allowed us to make choices and sometimes that hurts…

On the other hand, the only way to avoid hurt, is to stop loving, to stop caring about the people in our lives, the wars that don’t effect us and the children we didn’t get a chance to know. Grief, anger, sorrow, despondency, depression, emptiness—all of these feelings legitimize those relationships in our lives. They are real feelings, because the people we mourn were real people, and whether we are mourning the loss of someone through a death or a falling out, those relationships have meaning in our lives, and it is our privilege to feel complex and important feelings about the relationships.

 

Finally, it is important to remember that anger is energy, and the best thing to do with that anger is to channel it into something. If we (instead of debating guns for instance) focused all the anger and grief that we have from Sandy Hook into helping other children in unfortunate circumstances—those who suffer violence in their neighborhood everyday, or those who are stuck in the foster system with no way our, or those who live in poverty. Think of what we can do. Do you think Martin Luther was angry? How about Martin Luther King Jr. or Elizabeth Cady Stanton? They used those intense feelings appropriately. And our job is the same…to get off the tv, the internet and the office conversations. Remember Fred Rogers aka Mr. Rogers said that whenever a tragedy occurred on the news, his mother would remind him to not just look at the tragedy, but to note the helpers.

 

How many helpers are there in the world as compared to the sick and abusive? And can we be those helpers to. Where is God in all this? Part of the answer is that he is with us, showing us how to help.!!!!!!!!!!