Ok, I am following my friend, Andee Zomerman’s (natureofaservant.com) lead and doing the national blog posting month. It’s where people with a blog commit to posting every day for the month of November. I have always thought about doing more blogging but honestly, I harbor the fear that I have nothing to say (those of you who know me can quit laughing now) or perhaps more specifically, that I have nothing relevant to say.
Here goes nothin’…
Full disclosure for those who may not know me well or at all: I have many issues but my main one is that I think about my job ALL THE TIME. Not in a “OMG why do I do this work” sort of way, but more in a “I love my job, I want to be the best I can be at it and what if I don’t know enough, do enough or am effective enough” sort of way. You see, a little over a year ago I finished seminary and was ordained an ELCA pastor in youth and household ministry at a church in Lakewood, CO. Now I have actually worked in ministry for several years as what the Church calls “lay staff” (kinda like if you are not ordained you “lay” around waiting for the “real” leader-you know the pastor-to do the actual work) in early childhood and faith formation. I have a passion for stable, grounded and healthy families and my bias for that foundation is obviously Jesus Christ (if you disagree with me-cool but that is not the point here).
Families in our culture are struggling for many reasons, some that have been around since the beginning of time, and some that are unique to our time and place in 21st America. As a director of a preschool in a suburb of Portland, OR I was smacked daily by these struggles and was equally smacked by the impact of teaching daily faith practices to families who had never even considered darkened a door of a church except for affordable early childhood education. Families who barely knew about God suddenly wanted to know more about the prayers their children were learning, the Bible stories of dysfunctional families that sounded all too familiar, the unconditional love and support of community and, most of all, the idea that they were created in the image of a loving and forgiving God. In a society that remembers every wrong you have ever committed, where your credit history is a litany of all your youthful missteps, that judges you by your appearance or the appearance of your children (no mac and cheese stained shirts), and expects your home to look like the cover to Good Housekeeping, I noticed how when these families darted out of the Oregon rain through the glass doors with a big ol’ cross on it, they relaxed. They stopped and talked with one another and after some time shared vulnerabilities and the foibles of parenting and life in general.
They formed close friendships and daily life conversations on childcare, laundry tips, breastfeeding support (yes even from dads!), coupons and recipes for toddlers became an oasis in isolated and individualistic desert for these young families. It was so social in the mornings when the parents dropped off their child that we had to alter the drop off routine to accommodate this communal time. We intentionally did not do anything to curb it or shorten it but instead offered activities for the children that encouraged parents to hang out and connect. This chaotic, loud and beautiful community was the reason why I went to seminary. THIS is what the people of God are hungry for-authentic, unconditional, contextual, imperfect, non-demanding and messy community. Counter cultural, unpretentious and achingly marvelous.
Nearly every single second of my day I am thinking, dreaming and scheming about how to bring this to every family, every household, every person, every day. Obsessive? Most definitely. Could I use another hobby? Likely. Should I care that those things are true? Probably. But honestly, I don’t know how to do anything different.