Thursday, October 17, 2013

What I Miss

I like being a pastor.  I like visiting people, giving communion, leading worship, singing.  I like praying in a hospital room, celebrating new babies and new members, being able to be with people of all ages, from birth to death.  I love that tonight I was able to get together with two of my former confirmation students for dinner, and learn a little about the directions their lives have gone  And I get to read, and study, and think for a living.

But sometimes, I think about before I was a pastor.  I really didn't like my job.  I worked in an insurance office.  I was okay at it, but I suspected that I wasn't using some of my gifts.

But, here's the thing:  back then, I had a lot of friends who didn't go to church.  I also had my friends from church (I spent a fair amount of time at church).  I had some friends who never went to church, some friends who used to go to church, but stopped, for one reason or another.  I used to have these theological conversations with one of the women where I worked.  She called me her "Lutheran friend."

I remember going out after work with another one of my non-church-going friends.  Sometimes she would confide in me things that had happened to her when she was a child.  Sometimes we would talk about God and life and forgiveness and things like that.

Then there was the Buddhist guy I dated a couple of times.  He used to be Catholic, and he thought it was sort of cute that I was still a Christian.  Still, we had some good conversations.

I miss that.

I don't know if I ever invited my non-church-going friends to church with me.  When I think about it now, I am a little scandalized.  But I wasn't thinking about trying to get non-church-goers to be church-goers.   I was just sharing faith with people whose faith was different from my own.  And then I knew things I have almost forgotten now.  Then I knew that a lot of my non-church-going friends weren't dying to go to church, but they were dying for someone to care about them, listen to them, tell them that they mattered in the world.

I miss those conversations.

It's good to invite your friends to church with you.  I want the people in my church to do that.  But what I would really like to do is help them have the kind of conversations that I had before I became a pastor.  

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