12 years old, 40%, ac/dc, angelsportion, coffee shop, contemporary, ecclesiastes 5:1-3, fish, Glendullan Distillery, honey nut cheerios, Luscious Nectar, lutheran, marriage, minister, narthex, pastor, review, scotch, tater tots, the singleton, thoma, traditional, vacation, vestments, whisky, worship
If your pastor is unmarried, do what you can to help change his situation, even if it means a mail-order bride paid for with money borrowed from the church’s building fund. I promise you, a married pastor is a far more effective pastor. You need only to consider the following example.
I once learned the sinister motive of a Sunday morning visitor to my congregation. As is my practice, I reach out to all who come calling in such ways, preferably by phone, but if necessary, by email or letter. In this instance, the visitor left only her name and mailing address.
Frustratingly invigorated by her intent, I wasted little time addressing an envelope and scribing a letter to put inside. It went something like this…
Thank you for visiting our church. It certainly was nice to meet you, and I hope we see you again, soon.
I should say your neighbor shared with me that you visited this past Sunday only to confirm for yourself and then prove to him how a traditionally conservative church such as ours is boringly irrelevant and far too ineffective in mission when compared to the trendier church you currently attend. Honestly, I’m not sure how you can measure such a thing by one visit. Nevertheless, hearing this made me sad, while at the same time it provided an opportunity for honest reflection.
Thinking back on what you experienced, indeed, it’s true that I preached rather straightforwardly from biblical texts appointed for the day instead of showing a few videos and telling off-the-cuff personal stories about myself and my favorite sports, perhaps hoping you’d be entertained enough to make some sort of spiritual connection. Admittedly, it certainly is harder to get to know me and my preferences—to become my follower—when I’m spending so much energy introducing you to someone else, namely, Jesus. In that same vein, I hope you weren’t too annoyed by the vestments I was wearing. I just haven’t reached a point in my ministry where I feel comfortable drawing attention to my fashion preferences while serving among the holy things of God. And I suppose it’s worth sharing that I don’t currently own a pair of skinny jeans or a flannel shirt. However, I do own an AC/DC t-shirt, and I sometimes wear it beneath my clerical. But, of course, no one can see it, and as a result, I’m likely being slighted by not drawing more attention to myself.
Since I’m coming clean, I feel the need to go a little further and apologize for a few more things.
Not only did I not say “I just wanna” at any moment during any of the prayers you heard spoken, with my arms uplifted at the altar, I also didn’t have my sleeves conveniently rolled back to reveal any forearm tattoos. But again, since I’m being honest, there are practical reasons for the whole sleeve and tattoo debacle. For one, the sleeves of the alb (which is the robe-like vestment I wear) don’t roll back too easily; and secondly, I don’t have any tattoos with which to impress you. Although, I have been thinking about getting the entirety of Ecclesiastes 5:1-3 printed on my back. Perhaps then I can just go shirtless.
Digging deeper into my shame, I’m embarrassed that all of the hymns we sang utilized more than the same three words. To make matters worse, they were the same stodgy hymns the Church has been singing across the globe for centuries. Yeah, I know, right? Who needs a religion born from the vernacular of those who came before us? Boring. For the record, the guitar in the corner of my office probably doesn’t even have any strings on it, so we’re pretty much stuck using the pipe organ. I just hope we didn’t add insult to injury doing what we did when we could have done something far more amusing utilizing brightly-beaming PowerPoint presentations that came bundled with the ten-week sermon series on being intentionally engaging in order to engage intentionally.
But hey, you have to at least admit that when on occasion as a congregation we choose blue instead of violet during Advent, the chasuble and stole I wear really bring out the blue in my eyes. I mean, I was voted “Sexiest Eyes” my senior year in high school. Together we can at least admit that we’re getting that one right, yes?
In conclusion, we should get coffee and visit together sometime. Maybe we could meet in the narthex of your church. I hear you have a phenomenal coffee shop there, one that chases the same vibe as the local Starbucks, but never gets it quite right. Again, I must apologize for our lack of trying in this regard. As you can see, we just don’t have what your church has when it comes to chasing after the world. Speaking of the narthex, the word itself comes from the Greek work narthekas, meaning “to purge.” The room’s centuries-old purpose is Christocentric. It’s meant for carrying Christians from the world around them into the holy spaces where God will focus our attention on Him and the gifts of forgiveness He brings. Passing through a church’s narthex is to be a time of calibration, a brief moment for setting the noisy world aside in preparation for listening and receiving from God alone. Again, to our own worldly detriment, we continue such pious traditions at the expense of what really could be a great space for midweek yoga classes—or as it meets more closely with Lutheranism, a biergarten.
Anyway, to wrap this up, perhaps we could meet at your church. Or wherever. I’m sure no matter where we go, the atmosphere would be comfortably similar. There’s much I’d like to share with you. Be sure to bring your Bible. I’ll bring mine, too. And I’ll bring my high school yearbook to prove the claim about my eyes.
So, what does any of this have to do with a married pastor’s effectiveness? Well, consider the likely recrafting of the same letter by my wife:
Thanks for visiting our church. It was nice to meet you, and I hope we see you again, soon.
You do realize my version of the letter was a betrayal of my inner humorist, and that as a clergyman, I would never send a letter in need of such major surgery? I’m more of a “you do your thing and I’ll do mine” kind of guy, even when treated viciously for my preferences. I’ve learned how to let most things go. Still, I’m human, and with that, there have been times when, knowing my deeper frustrations, my wife has helped to steer me from opportunities in which my thoughts could’ve become words or actions leading to self-inflicted suffering. Thus, a married pastor is often a more effective pastor, if only to save him from unnecessary shame.
I think the same rule applies to certain whiskies. In other words, most whiskies, while they may be soundly enjoyable alone, some are bettered when other influences are introduced. The Singleton 12-year-old “Luscious Nectar” edition from Glendullan is one of those whiskies.
Having already poured the dram, I considered its dimensions while preparing dinner for my vacationing family. In the nose, I noticed malted caramel teetering at the edge of toffee. A sip revealed a mild fruitiness beneath a salt-buttered layer of the sweets from the nose. The whisky’s almost-medium finish took a turn toward lemons.
Once the whatever-you-feel-like-on-vacation feast of fish, tater tots, three-cheese ravioli, and Honey Nut Cheerios was ready, I poured another dram to sip during the meal. I discovered the whisky’s ability to walk in perfect stride with my choice of fish and tater tots, being a gentle garnishing of sorts for the pair. For the fish, its butter and citrus served well. For the tater tots, the salt-sweet nature had me dreaming of whisky-soaked tots as a doable pre-dinner appetizer.
On second thought, such a recipe might need to be edited by my wife before being set before others. My inner voice and its ends are often found far too close to ready means.