Monday, October 12, 2009
For many in America, October 12 is a day to celebrate—or to rail against—Columbus Day. For my Canadian friends (and, I suppose, those people in Canada who I don't know or with whom I do not share friendship), today is Thanksgiving Day.
For me, October 12 marks the anniversary of what was probably the worst day in my life. Four years ago today, the leaders of the congregation I was serving in Ohio demanded my resignation as the Associate Pastor of their congregation. I've told the story here before, and I don't need to repeat the whole sordid tale here.
So . . . yeah. It's been four years now since I've been a parish pastor. It's not easy, knowing that you're Called to do something and to be unable to do it. Oh, I've preached and taught Bible study all over Louisiana and beyond. I've officiated at three funerals. I've even been blessed to baptize three beautiful children, two of whom are my own. Every chance I'm given to do these things is a blessing. But the difference being a parish pastor and being a pastor who only occasionally gets to be a pastor is extremely frustrating. I've been trained and Called to preach the Gospel, to administer the Sacraments, to serve God's people as an undershepherd. What God has given me to bring to His people is the greatest Good News, and not being able to do what I've been Called to do is a terrible burden to bear. It's been four years, and there's no way to say when—or even if—I'll be a parish pastor again. God willing, it will happen soon. God willing, it will happen. I have no ambition but to serve God by preaching the Word to His people and faithfully administering the Sacraments.
I always thought that guys who end up on CRM status—the abbreviation for "candidatus reverendi ministerii," or, "candidate for the holy ministry"—ended up there because they did something terrible. They cheated on their wives. They taught false doctrine. They stole money from the congregation. But that's not usually the case. Oh, those guys exist. But more often, someone in a position to "make things happen" in a congregation decides they don't like the way a pastor preaches or teaches or keeps his schedule or what he stands for, and they convince those around them that the pastor must go. I am not without guilt in my own situation, but the majority of the men I've met who have been forced to resign from their congregations, many of whom I've had contact with. have been forced to resign merely for doing what they do: preaching the Gospel in its purity, teaching the Word of God instead of popular ideas, and loving people with God's love. These men vow to do these things, and they are treated shamefully for doing what they have been Called to do by the very people for whom they have been Called to do it.
The world needs what these other men and I have been Called to bring. God grant that we all be given a place to being faithful servants of God and faithful undershepherds to His people.