Monday, December 24, 2007

"Blue Christmas"

Alright, blogs are personal, right? So I can get personal here, right?

I left the practice of law in order to go to seminary (although one could as well say the practice of law left me). My first church out of seminary was anything but a shining success, and after a year, I left to take my second church. That lasted three years, and I haven't had a pulpit of my own since. I've even considered changing denominations; that fell through, too.

But I did at least two things right as a pastor; two public things that is. One was reviving the Christmas Day service at the church I served as a student; the other was starting a "Blue Christmas" service at every church I served, long before NPR "discovered" it. (Which goes to my point that, if it rises to the level of national attention, it's already old news.)

What makes all this personal? Well, I sometimes think I didn't do much right as a pastor, but I did do liturgy right. It's easy to think that's no accomplishment at all, arrayed against the people at two different churches who wanted me fired. But angry, bitter, and cowardly people (firing the pastor in a church is always a complex affair) shouldn't be the standard by which you judge your fitness for ministry. If you are too outcome oriented, only the outcome matters, and you may as well preach the gospel of prosperity and hope you get rich at it. There are other ways to be outcome oriented; and a sound liturgy is one of them.

Sadly, I sat down to write this, and find my "Blue Christmas" liturgies exist only in hard copies lost in files buried in my closet. They were created on a computer from nearly 15 years ago, and never made the electronic transition, so I cannot dazzle you with my brilliance. Just as well, of course; liturgy is about worship, not about ego satisfaction. Let that be a lesson to me. Let me also just say that a good Advent/Christmas service which recognizes grief and loss at Christmas and yet affirms the presence of God, can be a very good thing. I hope if you need one, you've found one.

Perhaps soon I'll be able to offer one again; or at least get one of my versions on line.

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