Several people have mentioned to me that my last few posts seem to have been written by my alter-ego: The Reverend Debbie Downer. True enough. One can't be hilarious AND upbeat all the time, you know?
I think part of the problem is that this is one of the most difficult times of the year to be a pastor. Not only because of all the work that's associated with these days (palm to be distributed, donkeys to be shepherded*, feet to wash, black cloth to locate, vigil candles to gather, most-important-sermon-of-the-year to write!) but also because of what's sometimes missing: a true opportunity to experience the spiritual fruits of the season.
I find it to be a great irony that pastors (usually persons naturally predisposed to spiritual experience and interest) tend to have very limited opportunities to actually practice the faith that got them into this in the first place. Because it's hard to feel as though you're fully present (spiritually) when you're on the clock (literally).
This is not to say that pastors are never spiritually present and attuned while in worship. We are (for the most part!). When we pray, we're really praying. And when we sing, we're singing! But it is certainly not the same as sitting in the pew. Because worship is very much about being present. And ,as a pastor, I feel part of me is usually elsewhere when leading in worship. Part of me is there, but another part is thinking about the next song (Did I remember to give the music to the music director?) or trying to catch the eye of the liturgist (You're up, kid!) or taking stock of attendance (Wow! 32 if I count myself!** Where's so-and-so? Who's what new face?) or realizing I forgot to plan a children's sermon again (Guess what kids? God loves all of you!) or motioning to my co-worker (we forgot the grape juice!) or any of the other myriad of directorial movements that makes a service work.***
Luckily, amidst all this chaos with little opportunity for intentional reflection, my spirits were lifted this week by the words of my friend in cyberspace (and every now and then in real life too!) who keeps a wonderful blog on the intersection of spirituality and motherhood. She is a wise soul and regularly a source of inspiration to me. Her reflections on the difficulty of observing a meaningful holy week while parenting a small child helped me to remember that God can be in the little things too, just as God is in the big spiritual epiphanies.
So I'm taking a hint from her and doing a few little things: I'll try to observe a vegan diet with no alcohol this holy week in order to focus a bit more on spiritual nourishment. And I'll try to give up watching TV for the most part this week and spend those extra moments in prayer or sharing thoughts with friends here. And I think I might try (no promises!) to observe a silent fast from our service on Good Friday until our Saturday vigil. Either way, I'll hope that God can bring some revelation into my life somehow though all this while I'm busy thinking about other things.
So happy Holy Week, everyone.
Now did that donkey get off to......
*No, I'm not being metaphorical about the donkey. We have an actual donkey on Palm Sunday. No, I'm not kidding. It's a LEGIT donkey. And we march with out down Main St. Take that mega-churches!
**If I can be honest, just because it's holy week, I almost always count myself. :)
**Perhaps this is different in a rather large church....but in a small church, I sometimes feel like a one-woman band!