There are days and weeks in ministry that seem like a comedy of errors.
The week began quietly enough, but after lunch a news reporter came to church to discuss a documentary about ‘Fight Church,’ a ministry in which pastors use mixed martial arts fighting as a way of spreading the Christian message. April 1st was last week, I thought. This was for real. Not so much What Would Jesus Do, but Who Would Jesus Karate Chop? In CD I/1, Karl Barth writes that God can speak through a flute concerto, a dead dog and Russian communism.. and I am sure one could add ‘fight church’ to the list, but what responsibility does the body of Christ have in the midst of a culture of violence? Perpetuation? Or do we offer the world an alternative to revenge and retribution on the one hand, or cheap grace and bland acceptance on the other?
Before I could ruminate on Fight Church very long, the church office erupted in shrieks and screams of hysteria. There was a church mouse on the loose, darting from office to office, running scared. I thought of the naval officer who after leaving the Navy became a church office manager. He was always telling me that the church was such a hand-to-mouth operation. Wouldn’t he love to see this?
Finally, as things calmed down I happened to remember that I had been invited to say a prayer on the steps of the courthouse at an event to raise awareness for the abuse and neglect of children in our community. I thought it would be nice to pick up my own children and take them to the event with me. I picked them up in a rush and we made it to the courthouse with five minutes to spare (I am notoriously cutting it close). We were at the wrong courthouse; the juvenile courthouse was miles a way. Time to hurry. My children were not in a hurry. I was frustrated and flustered and getting angry with them at the exact same time I was trying to prepare to pray at an event for the prevention of CHILD abuse. The irony was not lost on me. We came in on two wheels; I kept my composure long enough to pray, and we made it home in one piece.
That was Monday. Today is Tuesday…it began with theological study. I got to read a chapter of a new book on Karl Barth and Hans Urs Von Balthasar and von Balthasar’s interpretation of and influence upon Barth. “I get to do this for a living,” I thought. That joy was followed by a lunchtime study with church people, many of whom have jobs and are taking a lunch break to read the gospel of Mark together. We did not want the time to end. We were discussing the kingdom of God and why it was often hard to see. I wondered if we weren’t experiencing it right there as we broke bread and shared gospel together.
The day was not over… we were planning a Dr. Seuss series for the summer, and wanted to come up with some Seuss-sounding lines of poetry to advertise the event. So I spent this afternoon trying my hand at some second rate poetry á la Dr. Seuss.
In between, there have been weddings to plan, funerals to prepare, and fences to mend. But this week was a reminder to me of why I love this work and the mixed bag of the sacred and the silly that await our discovery each day. We get to do this… and tomorrow is only Wednesday!
CHRIS CURRIE is pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Shreveport, Louisiana.