Saturday, January 08, 2005

"I haaaaaaave the poooooooower!!!"

In preparation for my ordination, I bought a robe yesterday. It's your standard black academic robe that the Reformed guys in Geneva would have worn. I keep trying to picture myself in a white alb, and I look silly.

Anyway, the shoulder pads in this thing are huge. I tried it on in the store and it definitely added an inch or two to my physique. I jokingly thought to myself that by putting it on I've become Pastor He-Man. I held aloft my power sword and shouted, "By the power of Cokesbury....I haaaaaaave the pooooooower!!!!" Please tell me people who read this know who I'm talking about. I know the show's been away for a while and for some reason Cartoon Network isn't showing the new version right now. There's at least one entirely new generation who wasn't around for it. Well, whatever.

So I was thinking on the ride home about this business of becoming Pastor He-Man, and thought about how some church members really do expect you to wield your power sword, riding Battlecat right through their problems and committee meetings, perhaps even wrapping everything up in neat 30-minute installments (in the case of committee meetings, this would truly be a blessing and an accomplishment). To some extent you expect yourself to fill this role as well. I've had the training, I can do this. Right?

There have come some pastoral situations, both in and since seminary, where I was clearly not going to do any of this. My Battlecat was more like Cringer and I was too baffled to do or say much more than, "let us pray."

These have been humbling experiences that have revealed to me that I am definitely NOT Pastor He-Man, and I do NOT have the power. Those shoulder pads are an illusion, a cruel trick played on me AND my congregation. I learned to talk the talk in seminary, and due to their excellent field education program and my Association's requirement to do a unit of Clinical Pastoral Education, learned a lot of ways to walk the walk. But now that I'm nearly ready to don the robe, all the power that I think Eden and the UCC have given me (well, the certificates say "rights and privileges") withers in the face of genuine pain and suffering.

But....praise be....God DOES have the power. God transforms situations by God's presence and love, gives me reassurance to do what I do and every once in a while our minds sync up just long enough for me to say something helpful. More often, though, God works in the situation despite me, maybe even around me. A rabbi friend of mine in St. Louis once told me, "To do what you need to do, many times you need to get out of the way."

It makes things a lot easier when one stops pretending to be He-Man. Indeed, I've found that the best thing I can do for anyone is admit my humanity. That's when relationship, between me and the congregation, between me and God, can actually happen. Amen and amen. And amen.

Hey, before I forget. Check out Matt's Blog. He gave me a plug the other day and I wanted to return the favor. Plus he likes David Sedaris and Reel Big Fish, so you know it's gotta be good.