Posted tagged ‘solitude’

Renewing the Dead

March 23, 2015

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                      March 23, 2015

                                      

There is a TV series that a lot of people are wild about entitled The Walking Dead. (Full Disclosure: I’ve never watched it) My understanding of the show is that people get turned into zombies or several dead-like humans. I’m sure there is a lot of tension, at least one bad dude who hasn’t turned into a zombie yet, love twists, and complicated situations.

Some weeks in ministry I feel like the walking dead. Spirit is on life support, prayers are a whisper, situations at church take my breath away, and when I wake up in the morning I can’t wait to go back to bed that night.

Our church is having a “Renewal Weekend” in a few days. It’s an event that came out of a Sunday school class! Some are amazed by that because the pastor didn’t initiate it or get the idea for it from attending a seminar. But…yes, several people in that class felt the leading of the Holy Spirit to bring it to me to see what I thought and I said “Go for it!”

It’s interesting that the closer the renewal weekend is the more predicaments I seem to be dealing with in church.

So here’s the bottom line! I’m so…so…so ready to be renewed! The team that has planned it has emphasized that this is an event that I will be able to “take in”, not lead or be involved in the preparation for. I’ve had about three meetings over lunch with some of the planners, but next weekend I will be soaking up, not dishing out.

Here’s a hard thing for people to hear! Sometimes pastors have nothing in the tank. They are in danger of being one of the walking dead, trying to find life and “a new word from the Lord.” People don’t like to hear that, but it’s the reality. Jesus went off by himself quite often. Sometimes we don’t know exactly why. We know that he would go off to pray, but not necessarily the reasons for the timing of it. Perhaps he was getting ticked off by his disciples and needed a break from them, or wanted to get away from the noise, or the endless cry for miracles to be performed and healing in people’s lives accomplished. All we know what he would suddenly cast out the daily itinerary as quickly as a demon and head to the high country.

This will be the first Sunday since mid-October that I will not have the responsibility of delivering a word from the Lord…almost six months.

That tells of another pastoral dilemma! Pastors have a high degree of thinking “It has to be me” in the pulpit on Sundays. Although they mean well, I have people tell me that when I’m not speaking on Sunday morning attendance falls. Pastors take on that burden of being present…all the time…24/7…morning, noon, and night.

We think it’s what we should do, but even tires need to be rotated once in a while!

Trust me! This is not meant to be a whine-and-cheese blog entry. I take responsibility for not taking care of my spiritual health. I love my congregation, and I know without a shadow of a doubt that they love me. It would in some ways be easier if I was despised. The love keeps you going, but sometimes love needs to say “Take a break!”

That break will be this weekend! Amen!

Gathering in Silence

March 7, 2014

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                     March 7, 2014

 

                                    

 

Silence is golden…and increasingly uncomfortable, it seems! People are putting down $300 for headphones that will allow them to keep the noise in…their “noise preference”, that is!

There’s a reason why we wish for “peace and quiet.” The two are often linked together.

And yet, we live in a noisy world that elevates sounds and echoes and voices…and has a hard time knowing how to handle silence.

Millions watch “The Voice” each week. Nascar has a following of even more than that, as people flock to the raceways to cheer at the sounds of the engines revving.

Last Sunday I did a children’s story before the congregation received communion. I talked about the meaning of the elements…the bread and the cup…and asked the children to be extra quiet and still as we took communion that morning. We didn’t filter the silence with music…we just kept quiet. I’ve never had a communion experience quite like that! There was complete silence as we gathered together around the Lord’s table. it was…good!

A friend of mine recently made the comment that the silence of God sometimes brings people together.

We wait for a word, a leading, a whisper.

The noise has a way of drowning out lips that are sealed. We believe that God is ever-moving, and, as a result of that, we erroneously think that there must be constant chatter and loud praise.

A scripture that always has intrigued me comes at the end of Genesis 16 and the first verse of Genesis 17. I won’t quote it here, but simply say that it indicates a gap of thirteen years in Abram’s life. God had promised Abram that he was going to father a great nation, but things weren’t happening quick enough. Sarai wasn’t getting pregnant and neither of them was getting any younger, so they took things into their own hands and brought in Hagar to be a substitute wife. They could only trust God so long with what was going on. The emptyness of Sarai’s womb was too much silence for them to handle.

And so God was “silent” for thirteen years to further help them to realize that HE was going to bring a son into the lives of Abram and Sarai. Abram means “exalted father.” Abraham means “father of many.” Thirteen years of silence can bring us to a more attentive place, and God strengthened that listening by changing a name.

Sometimes God seems to be silent in our churches and in our lives, and we panic and begun to orchestrate holy moments. And yet, it is in the silence that we can quite often go to a deeper search…a testing of our faith…a point of confession and repentance. It’s a pathway through the wilderness, and yet we are hesitant to proceed.

Quite often I ask a question of a men’s group that I lead. The flow of conversation about pro football, hunting, new car models, and building projects has been going non-stop…and then the pastor interrupts the warmness, the male bonding, by asking the question “So what has God been doing in your life?” Or “What’s God been saying to you ?”

Silence invades the conversation. I realize that it is easier, and not as threatening, to talk about Cabela’s and outdoor grills than holy conversations, but the quiet that follows the question is deafening.

Some of our most meaningful times together have then flowed out of that question that is allowed to simmer for a bit.

Silence does end up leading us to the gold.