Consolation & Woes

18 Feb

Luke 16

Letter to young person in formation from the supervisory priest. I quote:

“A vocation to Holy Orders is not a job. It requires personal sacrifice and application to hard work and long hours. It means loving, giving and serving even when you think you haven’t got anything else to give.

This is the atmosphere in which clergy are expected to work. It is not only clergy but christians in general. We are to exhaust ourselves in the name of God, sacrificing ourselves because that’s the example Jesus set.

Yet was it?

Jesus didn’t sacrifice himself. He was executed for poltical and religious expediency, not yours and my sin. It did not begin with us although we perpetuate this myth of sacrifice as the paradigm for Christian life and ministry. It is wrong.

Eugene Petersen in an article “The Unbusy Pastor” writes:

“I (and most pastors, I believe) become busy for two reasons; both reasons are ignoble.

I am busy because I am vain. I want to appear important. Significant. What better way than to be busy? The incredible hours, the crowded schedule, and the heavy demands on my time are proof to myself-and to all who will notice-that I am important………

He continues:

“The other reason I become busy is that I am lazy. I indolently let other people decide what I will do instead of resolutely deciding myself. I let people who do not understand the work of the pastor write the agenda for my day’s work because I am too slipshod to write it myself. But these people don’t know what a pastor is supposed to do. ….. (but) I lazily go along with them. It takes effort to refuse, and there’s always the danger that the refusal will be interpreted as a rebuff, a betrayal of religion and a calloused disregard for people in need.

It was a favorite theme of C. S. Lewis that only lazy people work overhard. By lazily abdicating the essential work of deciding and directing, establishing values and setting goals, other people do it for us; then we find ourselves frantically, at the last minute, trying to satisfy a half dozen different demands on our time, none of which is essential to our vocation, to stave off the disaster of disappointing someone.”

In our gospel we have the blessings and the woes that come to people at some point in their lives. These are not simply categories of people who are deemed either in or out, but an understanding that we move in and out of these changing seasons of life -sometimes rich, sometimes poor; sometimes hungry, sometimes satisfied; sometimes happy and content, sometimes sad and grieving – these moments come to us all and we need to find a way to remain connected to our lives despite what is happening.

The modern cult of busyness and the christian cult of sacrificial work will not hold us up. A report out of England says most clergy who leave ministry do so in the first 5 years. Perhaps it is because they are unable to avoid the cult of busyness,and unable to find the capacity to stay in charge of their own lives and decisions. Workers, grandparents etc.

Over the last 6 weeks I have been reflecting on my own life and my own understanding of my values and purpose. This came about because I became sick just before the annual general meeting requiring a range of tests and medication during December and early January. It came on the back of Gaye being seriously ill in the middle of the year. Then over Christmas Gaye bcame progressively unwell and entered hospital for 7 days and, while she is home, is far from well.

In the process of reflection I was challenged to look at how I responded to these events in the past and what I discovered was unnerving. I responded by plunging back into work, solving problems, beginning new projects and disrupting the normal scheme of things. I also realised that every 4 years or so I bounced into a new job or mission when the previous one ceased to provide the adrenaline necessary. Pat Nottle

I discovered a whole range of other factors that, over the years has made me, to qoute Peterson, indolently lazy. I undertook a process of defining my values and, low and behold, sacrificial work wasn’t one of them. What was was love God and do as you please (Augustine). If you love God with all your heart, mind and strength you wll begin to love yourself in the same way. Only then can you love others. If you do not value your self honestly and genuinely then you will not value others and what you do for them will be tainted by self-interest, power, envy and more.

As a result of this process I have resigned from 5 committees, delegated much of whatI have been doing and focussed more fully on my vocation – being God’s person in this place – not God’s sacrifical slave. It is incredibly freeing to understand it doesn’t matter where you are in Luke’s Jesus’ woes and blessings that you remain fully you and are able to make decisions for yourself. These situations, other people, embedded psychological patterns or tradition and bad theology do not have the power or the right to make the decisions about what you value, what you decide or what your boundaries should look like – that belongs to you.

Last Sunday during the 10am service I seemed to get competely lost during the pronouncement of the giving of the peace. Yet I was not neccessarily lost but I wasn’t here. In those few moments it seemed to me that I was above myself looking down and I was faced with the challenge of declaring peace to myself – to finally announce to myself the peace of God. Merton, as I have said many times, says there can be no peace in the world until we are at peace with ourselves.

That was that moment.

Despite my past, despite the fact I am not perfect, not every one likes me, I am not recognised by all; I am at peace with myself. I finally have come to the place where it doesn’t matter what stage of consolation and woes I maybe in, I am ok.

The giving of the peace is a vital element of our service as it comes after the confession when we have made peace with God. We then share the peace with one or two others symbolocally. It is not a gossip session. It is a deeply spiritual ritual and it may even result in us declaring peace within ourselves, if we do it mindfully and with awareness.

The sermon on the plain is a pronouncement against vainity and laziness and asks us to deeply reflect on what we do, what we think we do and why we think that way. It asks us to focuss on what we value for it is only what we value that will save us if those values dovetail with the values of God.

(Matthew 22:36 -40)

“Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” He said to him, “’You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

Luke 16

Letter to young person in formation from the supervisory priest. I quote:

“A vocation to Holy Orders is not a job. It requires personal sacrifice and application to hard work and long hours. It means loving, giving and serving even when you think you haven’t got anything else to give.

This is the atmosphere in which clergy are expected to work. It is not only clergy but christians in general. We are to exhaust ourselves in the name of God, sacrificing ourselves because that’s the example Jesus set.

Yet was it?

Jesus didn’t sacrifice himself. He was executed for poltical and religious expediency, not yours and my sin. It did not begin with us although we perpetuate this myth of sacrifice as the paradigm for Christian life and ministry. It is wrong.

Eugene Petersen in an article “The Unbusy Pastor” writes:

“I (and most pastors, I believe) become busy for two reasons; both reasons are ignoble.

I am busy because I am vain. I want to appear important. Significant. What better way than to be busy? The incredible hours, the crowded schedule, and the heavy demands on my time are proof to myself-and to all who will notice-that I am important………

He continues:

“The other reason I become busy is that I am lazy. I indolently let other people decide what I will do instead of resolutely deciding myself. I let people who do not understand the work of the pastor write the agenda for my day’s work because I am too slipshod to write it myself. But these people don’t know what a pastor is supposed to do. ….. (but) I lazily go along with them. It takes effort to refuse, and there’s always the danger that the refusal will be interpreted as a rebuff, a betrayal of religion and a calloused disregard for people in need.

It was a favorite theme of C. S. Lewis that only lazy people work overhard. By lazily abdicating the essential work of deciding and directing, establishing values and setting goals, other people do it for us; then we find ourselves frantically, at the last minute, trying to satisfy a half dozen different demands on our time, none of which is essential to our vocation, to stave off the disaster of disappointing someone.”

In our gospel we have the blessings and the woes that come to people at some point in their lives. These are not simply categories of people who are deemed either in or out, but an understanding that we move in and out of these changing seasons of life -sometimes rich, sometimes poor; sometimes hungry, sometimes satisfied; sometimes happy and content, sometimes sad and grieving – these moments come to us all and we need to find a way to remain connected to our lives despite what is happening.

The modern cult of busyness and the christian cult of sacrificial work will not hold us up. A report out of England says most clergy who leave ministry do so in the first 5 years. Perhaps it is because they are unable to avoid the cult of busyness,and unable to find the capacity to stay in charge of their own lives and decisions. Workers, grandparents etc.

Over the last 6 weeks I have been reflecting on my own life and my own understanding of my values and purpose. This came about because I became sick just before the annual general meeting requiring a range of tests and medication during December and early January. It came on the back of Gaye being seriously ill in the middle of the year. Then over Christmas Gaye bcame progressively unwell and entered hospital for 7 days and, while she is home, is far from well.

In the process of reflection I was challenged to look at how I responded to these events in the past and what I discovered was unnerving. I responded by plunging back into work, solving problems, beginning new projects and disrupting the normal scheme of things. I also realised that every 4 years or so I bounced into a new job or mission when the previous one ceased to provide the adrenaline necessary. Pat Nottle

I discovered a whole range of other factors that, over the years has made me, to qoute Peterson, indolently lazy. I undertook a process of defining my values and, low and behold, sacrificial work wasn’t one of them. What was was love God and do as you please (Augustine). If you love God with all your heart, mind and strength you wll begin to love yourself in the same way. Only then can you love others. If you do not value your self honestly and genuinely then you will not value others and what you do for them will be tainted by self-interest, power, envy and more.

As a result of this process I have resigned from 5 committees, delegated much of whatI have been doing and focussed more fully on my vocation – being God’s person in this place – not God’s sacrifical slave. It is incredibly freeing to understand it doesn’t matter where you are in Luke’s Jesus’ woes and blessings that you remain fully you and are able to make decisions for yourself. These situations, other people, embedded psychological patterns or tradition and bad theology do not have the power or the right to make the decisions about what you value, what you decide or what your boundaries should look like – that belongs to you.

Last Sunday during the 10am service I seemed to get competely lost during the pronouncement of the giving of the peace. Yet I was not neccessarily lost but I wasn’t here. In those few moments it seemed to me that I was above myself looking down and I was faced with the challenge of declaring peace to myself – to finally announce to myself the peace of God. Merton, as I have said many times, says there can be no peace in the world until we are at peace with ourselves.

That was that moment.

Despite my past, despite the fact I am not perfect, not every one likes me, I am not recognised by all; I am at peace with myself. I finally have come to the place where it doesn’t matter what stage of consolation and woes I maybe in, I am ok.

The giving of the peace is a vital element of our service as it comes after the confession when we have made peace with God. We then share the peace with one or two others symbolocally. It is not a gossip session. It is a deeply spiritual ritual and it may even result in us declaring peace within ourselves, if we do it mindfully and with awareness.

The sermon on the plain is a pronouncement against vainity and laziness and asks us to deeply reflect on what we do, what we think we do and why we think that way. It asks us to focuss on what we value for it is only what we value that will save us if those values dovetail with the values of God.

(Matthew 22:36 -40)

“Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” He said to him, “’You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

Luke 16

Letter to young person in formation from the supervisory priest. I quote:

“A vocation to Holy Orders is not a job. It requires personal sacrifice and application to hard work and long hours. It means loving, giving and serving even when you think you haven’t got anything else to give.

This is the atmosphere in which clergy are expected to work. It is not only clergy but christians in general. We are to exhaust ourselves in the name of God, sacrificing ourselves because that’s the example Jesus set.

Yet was it?

Jesus didn’t sacrifice himself. He was executed for poltical and religious expediency, not yours and my sin. It did not begin with us although we perpetuate this myth of sacrifice as the paradigm for Christian life and ministry. It is wrong.

Eugene Petersen in an article “The Unbusy Pastor” writes:

“I (and most pastors, I believe) become busy for two reasons; both reasons are ignoble.

He continues:

I am busy because I am vain. I want to appear important. Significant. What better way than to be busy? The incredible hours, the crowded schedule, and the heavy demands on my time are proof to myself-and to all who will notice-that I am important………

“The other reason I become busy is that I am lazy. I indolently let other people decide what I will do instead of resolutely deciding myself. I let people who do not understand the work of the pastor write the agenda for my day’s work because I am too slipshod to write it myself. But these people don’t know what a pastor is supposed to do. ….. (but) I lazily go along with them. It takes effort to refuse, and there’s always the danger that the refusal will be interpreted as a rebuff, a betrayal of religion and a calloused disregard for people in need.

It was a favorite theme of C. S. Lewis that only lazy people work overhard. By lazily abdicating the essential work of deciding and directing, establishing values and setting goals, other people do it for us; then we find ourselves frantically, at the last minute, trying to satisfy a half dozen different demands on our time, none of which is essential to our vocation, to stave off the disaster of disappointing someone.”

In our gospel we have the blessings and the woes that come to people at some point in their lives. These are not simply categories of people who are deemed either in or out, but an understanding that we move in and out of these changing seasons of life -sometimes rich, sometimes poor; sometimes hungry, sometimes satisfied; sometimes happy and content, sometimes sad and grieving – these moments come to us all and we need to find a way to remain connected to our lives despite what is happening.

The modern cult of busyness and the christian cult of sacrificial work will not hold us up. A report out of England says most clergy who leave ministry do so in the first 5 years. Perhaps it is because they are unable to avoid the cult of busyness,and unable to find the capacity to stay in charge of their own lives and decisions. Workers, grandparents etc.

Over the last 6 weeks I have been reflecting on my own life and my own understanding of my values and purpose. This came about because I became sick just before the annual general meeting requiring a range of tests and medication during December and early January. It came on the back of Gaye being seriously ill in the middle of the year. Then over Christmas Gaye bcame progressively unwell and entered hospital for 7 days and, while she is home, is far from well.

In the process of reflection I was challenged to look at how I responded to these events in the past and what I discovered was unnerving. I responded by plunging back into work, solving problems, beginning new projects and disrupting the normal scheme of things. I also realised that every 4 years or so I bounced into a new job or mission when the previous one ceased to provide the adrenaline necessary. Pat Nottle

I discovered a whole range of other factors that, over the years has made me, to qoute Peterson, indolently lazy. I undertook a process of defining my values and, low and behold, sacrificial work wasn’t one of them. What was was love God and do as you please (Augustine). If you love God with all your heart, mind and strength you wll begin to love yourself in the same way. Only then can you love others. If you do not value your self honestly and genuinely then you will not value others and what you do for them will be tainted by self-interest, power, envy and more.

As a result of this process I have resigned from 5 committees, delegated much of whatI have been doing and focussed more fully on my vocation – being God’s person in this place – not God’s sacrifical slave. It is incredibly freeing to understand it doesn’t matter where you are in Luke’s Jesus’ woes and blessings that you remain fully you and are able to make decisions for yourself. These situations, other people, embedded psychological patterns or tradition and bad theology do not have the power or the right to make the decisions about what you value, what you decide or what your boundaries should look like – that belongs to you.

Last Sunday during the 10am service I seemed to get completely lost during the pronouncement of the giving of the peace. Yet I was not necessarily lost but I wasn’t here. In those few moments it seemed to me that I was above myself looking down and I was faced with the challenge of declaring peace to myself – to finally announce to myself the peace of God. Merton, as I have said many times, says there can be no peace in the world until we are at peace with ourselves.

That was that moment.

Despite my past, despite the fact I am not perfect, not every one likes me, I am not recognised by all; I am at peace with myself. I finally have come to the place where it doesn’t matter what stage of consolation and woes I maybe in, I am ok.

The giving of the peace is a vital element of our service as it comes after the confession when we have made peace with God. We then share the peace with one or two others symbolically. It is not a gossip session. It is a deeply spiritual ritual and it may even result in us declaring peace within ourselves, if we do it mindfully and with awareness.

The sermon on the plain is a pronouncement against vainity and laziness and asks us to deeply reflect on what we do, what we think we do and why we think that way. It asks us to focuss on what we value for it is only what we value that will save us if those values dovetail with the values of God.

(Matthew 22:36 -40)

“Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” He said to him, “’You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

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