Clergy Conference Musings
A highlight for me of this week’s ECMN online Clergy Conference, attended by almost 150 ECMN priests and deacons, was the two-part breakout I had with six of my clergy colleagues as we discussed the state of our congregations, our pastoral challenges and ourselves.
There is an expectation about how clergy are supposed to show up during difficult times, but when the times are difficult for the clergy too, that can be a tough ask. Here are some of the group’s musings that surfaced in our discussion:
“I’m running out of ideas about how to be a church.”
“I am extremely tired of all the chatter on the airwaves.”
“I have no more positive in me. I am empty. I get my energy being around people.”
“Maybe it will never get back to the way it was. We need to identify the possibilities in this.”
“We have to acknowledge our current grief and define it. You need to grieve to make room for the optimism.”
“We will see an overall increase in alcohol and drug use, and difficulty finding a place to direct people for help.”
“It’s OK for us to grieve, to let go, to lament. Wherever we need to be now, that’s fine.”
“Our identity is getting lost. We need to re-find it.”
(Note: There are six traditional forms for the Prayers of the People in the Book of Common Prayer. Four of them, for good reason, contain specific intercessions for the clergy.)
A Comforting Dismissal
Of the many excellent Sunday worship alternatives currently available to us all, Kathryn and I have been visiting the National Cathedral’s weekly Spiritual Eucharist. We love the music, the professional-quality production, the Cathedral’s amazing architecture and stained glass and the superb liturgical presentation.
They often use a cantor, Imani-Grace Cooper, Who I discovered has some jazz music videos on YouTube. She is fantastic. And we just like to hold hands while we say the Lord’s Prayer during the Eucharist.
This past Sunday, the National Cathedral service concluded with a venerable old dismissal that seemed so appropriate and so comforting that I wanted to share it with you. Taken from the work of Nineteenth Century Swiss philosopher, poet and critic Henri-Frederic Amiel, here it is for now, and I hope that we can share it again in person when we are able to resume meeting for worship together in our beloved St. John’s sanctuary.
Life is short
and we do not have much time
to gladden the hearts
of those who journey with us.
So, be swift to love,
make haste to be kind,
and go in peace
to love and serve the Lord.
In the name of the Father,
and the Son,
and the Holy Spirit.
Have you gladdened anyone’s heart recently? Has someone gladdened yours? I hope so.
Have a Blessed Week!