Many people work hard and give their best to the professions of their callings. Those who work at high-threat vocations need a release from the almost constant burden of their jobs. Skill and dedication are needed, but so are rest, recreation, prayer, contemplation, and humor, maybe especially humor.
Like many of your vocations, parish ministry can be a serious profession, though different, as threatening as heart surgery. With the church’s emphasis on the human condition and honest confession, let me share with you a fun and humorous fantasy I explore when things get a bit too anxious…
What if the church were a baseball franchise? Would we ease our financial challenges by selling, say, season tickets to the spiritually ambitious, a 13-Sunday package for snowbirds who come to Palm Beach for the winter, and end-of-the-season lotteries for Christmas and Easter attenders? And if the sermon were not going well, would I as a manager have someone warming up in the bullpen? Doesn’t it just make you feel better to contemplate that moment when you could pull the preacher and send him to the shower? Even the great ones just don’t have it some days. Or, wouldn’t it be fun to think of the bishop and/or the vestry as the owner of the franchise: If the members didn’t like the direction of the team they would threaten to walk unless they fired the manager … er, rector, and got a shiny new one! And what of the organ player? … Isn’t he always playing tunes we don’t know, and the ones we do know, he’s usually playing a little too loud or a little too fast. And how about those seats? — they are hard as rocks and our sight-lines stink. And have we thought of new uniforms?
This fun reminds us that while the church may be holy, it is a holy means not a holy end. At its best it is dealing with the outstanding privilege of finding God and being found by God, and to serve the world in God’s name. As we await the start-up of the new rector, it’s good to be reminded that we have a spirit-filled calling to love as Jesus loves, and to not forget the humor.