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I Get to Go to Church

From the pew, not the pulpit.

by Everett Wilson
March 16, 2009

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I Get to Go to Church

In ten weeks of retirement I have discovered that I am not defined by my vocation after all. It turns out that I never was. I sometimes thought I was, because parish ministry is so demanding that I felt a tiny guilt whenever I did anything unconnected with it.

Let me clarify that. Feeling guilt about something is not the same as being controlled by it. I always did lots of other things, spending many golden hours pleasing myself -- watching television, writing for publication, teaching night school, and just plain loafing. These were escapes from church, but not from guilt. I could escape guilt entirely only when I was too miserably sick either to work or play.

My new freedom is expressed in six little words: I get to go to church. In retirement I still preach when I am asked to, and I love doing it, but it is no longer expected of me as a regular thing. Yet going to church is still the high point of my week, indicating to me that my faith, not my job, defines me.

I get to go to church. An appreciative worshipper used to tell me how he would wake up on Sunday morning with the happy thought, "I get to go church today." Now I can say it too. I don't have to go to church. I get to go to church. Worship is not a duty and ordeal, but a high privilege—the opportunity to come to God and confront honestly the most significant issues in his world.

For the first time since seminary graduation, I am not the pastor of the church I attend. Instead, like the other worshippers, I have a pastor. I follow her leadership, accept her care, and learn from her preaching and teaching. In our common profession as ordained ministers, she and I are colleagues; but in the local church she is my pastor.

So now I get to do what I expected others to do throughout my career, and am learning that it is just as good as I thought it would be .

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ELM from USA writes:
March 16, 2009
I too love retirement and the freedom it allows!

Having been nearly preached to death all through my childhood, teens and early adulthood by ministers, I realized I got my fill. By then, knew what preachers know and more than ridged religion offered. I watched believers pack about the Black Book like a badge, I thought to myself -- don't they know what it says by now and when on God's Green Earth do they get done reading it?

Raised in hard-core dancing/speaking in tongues/pulpit thumping Pentecostal churches along with Assembly of God, I seen it all. In fact, one of your column writers here known as Awesome Rev, I watched grow from a young thing to a grownup preacher. For me and my house, the indoctrination plan of salvation didn't wash well, gel or stick. Thus, don't sit in any pew for my life does not depend on sitting in a pew, getting preached to
and don't look to organized religion to fix me or save me. I'm Okay! Had I clung to indocrination as a crutch, I wouldn't have been as okay today! Finder no longer have a need to seek; I am the finder of my life.

"To each his own." Those who swallowed the jeweled crown in outer space fantasy, more power to them. The magic of believing has a powerfull energy and affect all of it's very own. Putting dung on a wart with a focused strong belief it will heal it, can make it so. Mind over Matter!

Everett Wilson from The Partial Observer writes:
March 17, 2009
It's not about being okay, but about forgiving and being forgiven. I heard one Presbyterian minister put it this way: I'm not okay, you're not okay--and that's okay!

Rev. Mr. Moo writes:
March 22, 2009
Ev, thank you. so many times we are or believe that we are what we do. our self worth is wrapped up in our occupation. it is a joy to attend and be able to worship without being the one up front. i get that once or twice a year. you my friend are experiencing what many in the profession long to experience. if you ever get to the point of missing the "being up front", our pulpit is always open to you.

Everett Wilson from tpo writes:
March 26, 2009
I have been trying to reach Rev. Mr. Moo's email box, but it isn't going through. So what I wanted to say to him, I say to all: it would be an honor to preach in his pulpit.

Everett Wilson

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