Thursday, December 06, 2012

What You Always Wanted to Know About Pastors But Were Afraid to Ask

Question: Pastor, what do you do the rest of the week?

Answer: I typically spend my days on the couch eating popcorn and watching re-runs of Downton Abbey... erm, I mean...

Second attempt (returning with a bowl of popcorn from the kitchen): Why don't I just tell you how this week has gone?

Sunday: Of course, you saw me up there Sunday morning in the new blue Advent scapular. So I proclaimed a sermon, presided at communion, and engaged in the mutual consolation of the saints Sunday morning.

Then, right away after worship I had a meeting with our rites of Christian initiation for adults leadership team to plan the next step of our catechumenal process (what we call Our Lives, This Text). We planned our Sunday evening gatherings for January-March.

Later Sunday afternoon I brought my family up to church for the Christmas program. Splendid. Had cake and gatorade with the families after the program, then stayed for supper with our catechumenal group.

Monday: Started the day with a staff meeting. Then this week I've been conducting year-end staff review meetings, so I started some of those with our staff. Had lunch up at Butterfield Trail Village with a wonderful 90-year-old gentlemen from our congregation. Then came back to the office to finalize Advent worship details and write content for our mid-week e-blast.

Tuesday: More staff review meetings in the morning. Multiple conversations with various parishioners who stopped in. A bit of writing and busy work. Then hosted the "Two Sides of Maple" event at St. Martin's Episcopal Center. Our council president, and also professor of horticulture at the university, gave a talk on how he sees his faith and work as a scientist intersect. Good ecumenical event, nourished with Pizza Hut pizza. Later that afternoon went to the coffee shop with the oldest and hung out, I did a bit of reading while he watched Phineas and Ferb. Brief 5 p.m. meeting with the personnel committee to draft a proposal for succession for our parish nurse program as our current parish nurse retires next year.

Interlude: Imagine that each of these days also includes morning Advent calendar rituals with the family, lots of later afternoon and evening play, and bedtime routines, among other domestic pleasantries.

Wednesday: I spend Wednesday mornings home with the youngest while my wife volunteers at the elementary school. This particular morning it was also my pleasure to go to preschool with our middle child and do a joint presentation on our holiday (especially Advent) rituals to the class. We talked about Lego Advent calendars, nutcrackers, Justin Bieber's Christmas CD, and the Christian faith practices we try to do each day from our church Advent calendar. I also went to the gym.

Noon I attended the Fayetteville Ministerial Association meeting up at Mt. Seqoyah, which was a joint meeting with the Latino Ministerial Association. Learned a lot about the shape and approach to Latino ministries currently under way in Northwest Arkansas. In the afternoon, I hunkered down in my office and finished content edits for my dissertation and submitted it to the Doctor of Ministry office at Fuller Theological Seminary. Wednesday evening, led Advent worship and made a casserole for the Advent supper.

Thursday: Today I'm working from home in the morning while AT&T installs U-Verse in our house. I had a "Go-to-meeting" meeting with the advisory board of Connect Journal (the magazine of the ELCA Youth Ministry Network), and brainstormed themes for 2013 and also started soliciting new authors for upcoming issues.  Since Internet is down currently, I'm doing off-line tasks like composing this blog, writing a letter to the confirmation group, to our adult faith formation group, writing the prayers of the church for Sunday worship, and doing a little bit of reading in phenomenology. I plan to eat lunch with Joe Liles, the mission developer of The Neighborhood Church in Bentonville, then a meeting back at church with some lay communion visitors.

Friday: Sabbath. I rest, and do stuff with family.

Saturday: Holiday activities, including going to the botanical gardens for their annual train and Christmas display. Saturday evening our family is attending the Hannukah party at the local synagogue, which includes a service of prayer at the conclusion of Sabbath (Havdalah), lots of good food, a dreidel contest, and more.

Update: Illustrating why days off are not always days off, Friday included visits to two hospitals, as did Saturday. 

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