A friend slipped, fell hard, bruised both arms badly, and ended up in a rehab joint after a few days in the hospital.
I'm kinda old school when it comes to pastoral care.
I always make/find time for people with authentic challenges; which doesn't include shut-ins who can't get to worship but have no problems getting to the mall, hairdresser, or Burger King.
When folks are in the hospital, I try to show up daily for a hug and prayer; and when they move from the hospital to nursing/rehab care, I'll make a visit or two during the transition.
Back to my badly bruised friend, I went to see how she was progressing; and when I arrived at her room, she didn't appear to be there.
As I started writing a note, she called from the bathroom, "I'm in here! Don't go! I've been waiting for someone to wipe me!"
I answered, "___, it's me! Pastor Bob! I'm probably not the best person to help you right now!"
Later, after we prayed, I thought as I left, "Now that's quite a metaphor for ministry."
Staying with metaphors, a pastor/prophet in South Carolina is shaking salt again: "There are a lot of scarecrows standing in pulpits; pointing their congregations in all kinds of directions with assurances that all ways lead to Emerald City."
He continues, "I don't live in Oz. My goal is not Emerald City. My path is no Yellow Brick Road. So I find it deeply disturbing that so many folks are getting directions in life from scarecrows. A head full of straw hardly qualifies anyone for pastoral ministry. But, then again, scarecrows very rarely, if ever, actually proclaim God's truth."
Revealing the catalyst of his chagrin, "Last week, I had a certified (certifiable?) Presbyterian Lay Pastor proudly describe the 'pulpit' that he built for a Boy Scout camp complete with a cross, Star of David, and 'Allah' written in Arabic. Only someone with straw for brains could conclude Allah and Yahweh are one and the same."
Concluding, "I realize I come across as extremely arrogant and exclusive because I do not believe everybody worships the same god. I have no use for inter-religious activities which, in reality, amount to irreligious activities. There is nothing reverent about reverence directed to that which is not to be revered. And, sorry, you fans of three 'Abrahamic' faiths, Yahweh has made it quite clear that there are no other gods besides Him."
Ending, "People may find the idea of a Yellow Brick Road of their choosing that goes wherever they want to go appealing; but for anyone who wants to make God the Father their destination, there is but one way. See John 14:6!"
I'll be thinking about that pastoral/prophetic friend and who needs to be wiped while attending our franchise's big meeting in Vikings land (7/3-10).
Another friend who is the executive director of a paradenominational renewal organization for another mainliner that can't be renewed because it hasn't been newed for nearly four decades said, "Somebody said it's gonna be a circus. I think it's already a zoo."
God help it/us.
The agenda is packed with lots of, uh, stuff that needs to be wiped away from a denomination still claiming to honor Jesus as attested in Holy Scripture and upheld by its constitution.
I won't catalogue the insults to God's holiness because others like www.pcusa.org, www.layman.org, and www.ChurchandWorld.com do a much better job than moi.
Have a barf bag handy.
Staying with metaphors a little longer, you may have heard about the two boys who were watching a circus parade.
One was watching through a hole in the fence on street level.
He was overwhelmed with concern for the clowns, dogs, acrobats, horses, dogs, and the like because he saw they were in close proximity to lions, tigers, and bears...Oh, my!
The other boy was looking down on the parade from the top of a tall building and remained calm.
He could see the big picture; seeing/knowing the clowns, dogs, acrobats, horses, dogs, and the like were safe because the lions, tigers, and bears were in cages.
1 John 4:4 comes to mind.
Everybody needs to be wiped.
That's the bad news.
The good news is that's what He/His does/do best.
Blessings and Love!
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