Lesser-known Heroes

I continue my subscription to Christian Century because there is always something special in every issue—something that makes me pause and think or maybe causes me to be a little more grateful. A lot of my blog posts had their roots in something I read in the magazine.

“Faith Matters” is a column that I always take a look at, and in the January 7, 2015, issue the column was entitled “Lesser-known Heroes.” It was written by M. Craig Barnes, President of Princeton Theological Seminary. His lofty title notwithstanding, Barnes was writing to recognize local pastors who not only do not usually have lofty titles, but are seldom celebrated. He reminds us that “there are many unpretentious, undistinguished pastors in the world who are quietly doing heroic things.”

And what is the main heroic thing these pastors do? Barnes tells us: these pastors go before their congregations, people often beaten up by the effort life can be, to remind them, “We have a Creator for our lives who is not done. We have a Redeemer for all of the tragedy we have created by acting as if we were gods. We have a Spirit who will not abandon us to the mess we’ve made of ourselves and the world.”

To be thus reminded has to be one of the highest reasons to attend local church services.

           

New Year—Reason to Reflect

We’ve just brought the New Year in, but this year I did not take part in any of the usual festivities. For example, we usually dance with the dogs at midnight, write in journals, watch fireworks, and otherwise take special note of the passing of one year into another. Not this year.

This year we were, instead, caught in the life-and-death reality of my partner’s illnesses.The crisis came on suddenly around five in the morning on December 31, continued all through the day, all through the night, and all through New Year’s Day to approximately eight in the evening, when she was finally again stabilized. In the night, I had been setting the alarm for every two and a half hours to get up to see how she was doing. (I should add that she adamantly refused to go to an ER.)

So where was the “everyday spirituality” practice here? It was in my continuous praying, of course. It was in my constant belief that the divine Spirit is always with us, seeing us through whatever trial we face. The health crisis was not my idea of how to welcome in a new year, but maybe it was ideal for causing us to stop and reflect on what it means to come into a new year.