Sunday, September 16, 2012

"More Pastors Like You"

I went out last night, and met some new people who aren't religious.  I told them where I was going to school and everything and my plans to become a pastor. After a few more minutes, one of them said something that I've heard a lot recently.  He said, "The world needs more pastors like you." While I don't disagree, that phrase always has a disheartening implication to it. It implies that he's never met a pastor like me.  That is really sad to hear, because I know I didn't come out of a vacuum. Someone could just as easily say "the world needs more pastors like your mother, like your pastors, like your pastor friends, like your seminary colleagues..." I know a ton of pastors who are very similar to me in ideology, theology, and world view.  So it's very sad to me that we're not the kind of pastors non-religious people see or think of when they hear the word "pastor".  And if I'm to be honest, sometimes I don't think of my pastor friends when I hear the word "pastor" either.  A lot of us in this culture have an image of fire and brimstone pastors who speak condemnation, not love. We think of pastors who would easily reject someone for their sexual orientation or gender identity.  We think of pastors who appear to be "holier than thou" not down to earth.  These are the pastors you often see on tv and in the streets protesting.  It really is amazing how many people know the Westboro Baptist Church, but don't know that there are Christian denominations that ordain women and would be shocked to hear that there are plenty of LGBTQ pastors and church workers who don't have to live in the closet.  If I could have one wish granted, I would wish that a "pastor like me" would attract the public eye, would go out there and be the voice of progressive Christianity to an America that needs to hear that we exist.  I doubt very much that I am that pastor.  I just want to be a relaxed, down to earth, loving person that people can relate to.  So maybe the world doesn't need a pastor like me so much as it needs pastors, chuch leaders, and loving people like you.  And maybe someone who reads this will be called to be the voice I'm searching for.  Who knows?

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Testing Assumptions

Today I went to the church that almost all the young United Methodist first year students at my seminary have started going to.  The service was rooted in liturgy, the pastor (a grad of my seminary) talked about what it meant to be a progressive orthodox Christian (little o orthodox, someone who takes creeds and liturgy seriously), and everything was right on par with my theology.  I was grateful that I had gone.
I realized that I had made assumptions about my fellow students, and I'm sorry I did that.  Somewhere in my history, I started to assume that if someone around my age is serious about the church and Christianity, they are usually more conservative than I am. I've had Christian friends around my age that hold similar beliefs, but for whatever reason they always seemed like a minority in my mind.  I assumed that the twenty-somethings in seminary with me would naturally be a little more conservative, and they aren't.
 The majority of the students at my seminary really do hold similar beliefs to mine, and even if our beliefs differ, nobody's going to call me out or tell me that I'm wrong because of how I live my life. I am so excited to be in a Christian environment that is progressive and serious about the Bible and church traditions.  I am so excited to be in a seminary where I don't feel like one of those crazy liberal kids, I'm actually a pretty typical student. Praise the Lord, because somehow I ended up in an environment where I fit in just fine.

Friday, September 7, 2012


I've been learning a lot about how important my name is to me.  I won't go into details, but I'm someone with a preferred name that different from my legal name, and I've been having a hard time sorting things out with the university on this issue. I was talking to a staff person at my seminary about my problems and he said, "I wonder if Paul had problems when he changed his name from Saul".  It made me think of all the name changes in the Bible. There are at least half a dozen in the scriptures.  My favorite name change story is the story of Jacob becoming Israel.  He wrestled with an angel and got a new name for his efforts.  It makes me think about all the times I've struggled trying to figure myself and my life out, and I have a new name to show for my efforts.  It's not a legal name yet, but it is my name, and I cherish it.  I feel like it is a gift, and I will fight to keep it.  I am Zebulun, and no one can tell me otherwise.