A letter to you: my vision for “on patmos island”

Dear Members & Friends of Heritage Presbyterian Church,

This blog is meant to help us – you and me – to connect, or engage, with one another more regularly, intentionally, and openly.

In his book, The Pastor, Rev. Eugene Peterson recalls hearing a Scottish Presbyterian elder joke that pastors of the Scottish Highlands “were invisible six days a week and incomprehensible the seventh.”

Rev. Peterson expresses well the dilemma of visibility in the life of pastor and people.  He also decided to do something about it. (Please excuse the extended quotation; Eugene Peterson is a far better writer than I will ever be.  It would be pure ego to think I could improve on his words.  So instead I will simply make use of them.)

The only time that most of the people in our congregations see us… [is] on Sundays. … Away from the sanctuary, [they] see us only in bits and pieces.

I thought it would be useful to find ways to convey something of the invisibilities that held our lives together as pastor and congregation when we were not visibly together, something of what undergirded what they saw on Sundays and the occasional glimpses we had of one another on weekdays.

I wanted to find ways to develop a corporate congregational identity that had some sense of the formational harmonies and rhythms that kept our lives together.

What do pastors do between Sundays?

What do lay Christians do between Sundays?

I wanted to develop a congregational awareness that… infiltrated the hours and days of the week implicitly in every workplace and household. I wanted to develop a pastor/people relationship that included all the days of the week.

I wanted to let them know what I did between Sundays as I prayed for them by name, studied the scriptures so that I could translate them into the language and circumstances of their lives “between Sundays” and lead them in acts of worship that give depth and ballast to their lives wherever they are and whatever they are doing.

I also wanted to know what they did between Sundays, living out in their dailiness what they had received in word and sacrament in the Sunday worship.

I began to deliberately imagine ways that I could convey how intricately our lives are involved with one another’s even when, maybe especially when, we did not see one another. … I thought that writing a weekly congregational letter might help.  I used it to develop a congregational awareness of who we were when we weren’t in church together.

(from The Pastor by Eugene Peterson, pp. 272-5)

John of Patmos wrote scrolls.  Eugene Peterson wrote weekly letters.  I will write this blog.

Pastor and people.  People and pastor.  Living together.  Even when apart.  That is what this blog is about.

It means not writing to lecture or dictate or teach.  It means writing in a way that even the writing – and the act of writing itself – is a form of listening.  I expect, though I do not know for sure, that what will be written here will at times be a kind of thinking out loud… for both of us… pastor and people.

I will write to further conversation and dialogue that I see and hear going on among us already.  I will write what I hear you saying.  I will write what I hear myself saying in response.  I will write what I hear God saying to us and through us both.  I will write to engage you in deeper conversation and in hopes of hearing from you in response.  I will write to help us live from God, out of Scripture.

I will not write to demonstrate knowledge or to express my opinions.  After all, as wonderful and awesome as I may be convinced the things I have to say are, to say others don’t always share my enthusiasm is putting it mildly.  I will write to you as one would to a lover, parent, or close friend separated by great geographical distance.

This is not my blog. It is our blog.  Own it.

Let’s face it. We spend the majority of our “life together” apart.  You sleep at your house.  I sleep at mine.  At least, as far as you know.  Monday through Friday you work from your office or home and I work from mine.  We see one another on Sunday, sure, but we spend the majority of our time together, apart.  We need something, or somethings, to help us be together even when apart.

This blog is for the six days in-between each seventh.

Love from “Patmos”,

Victor

 

 

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2 thoughts on “A letter to you: my vision for “on patmos island”

  1. Victor – this is a great step forward. As the Elder responsible for Personnel several times over the years, I have had several conversations with people who did not understand that being a Pastor is a full time job. There was a misperception that the only thing going on between Sundays was preparing a sermon.

    I’m hopeful, and committed to provide the dialog you’re intending – providing the “what do lay Christians do between Sundays.”

    Thanks for stepping out in faith!

    Like

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