The question was asked as part of the online discussion forum in my doctoral program:“How do we create ‘space to be heard?’” But I’m not sure I understand the question. Of course, that doesn’t prevent me from trying to answer it, even as a self-therapeutic exercise. If this actually gets posted, though, you can assume I thought it might be helpful to share it with you.
The question comes to me in the busiest weekend of the year: “How do we create ‘space to be heard?’” The context given was that “contemporary culture is hard of hearing,” and so those of us who are Conservative Evangelical Christians (I’m one, but the label doesn’t fit everyone I serve with, even at The Glenburn Community Church, just so you know.) retreat to where we “find echo chambers of agreement.” (Anyone who has been to one of our Adult Bible Studies knows how hilariously ironic that phrase is to Glenburn. Blessedly, “Theology-in-community gets loud sometimes!”)
Perhaps the question strikes me so strangely because of when it was asked. I need some space. But I’m not having trouble being heard.
Here’s what my schedule looks like at the moment. (Feel free to skip to the end of the schedule at whatever point you feel exhausted.)
Friday, 9:00-10:30a – correspondence, preparation for a course I’m teaching, and fine-tuning of Friday night’s homily;
10:45a-1:30p – visit with staff, students, faculty, and parents before and after responsibilities as shot-clock operator for two games at our High School’s basketball tournament;
1:30-2:05 – retrieve voice-mail, panic, and then track-down our maintenance chairperson to ensure that someone is repairing the non-functional sanctuary furnace prior to the 6:00 p.m. community event (see below) our church (i.e., our currently-solo pastor—me) is hosting;
2:10-3:30 – help to lead singing, place ornaments, and watch refreshments being served to residents of our skilled nursing facility at the annual Christmas Tree Lighting; 4:00-5:00 – review notes for 6p event; 5:15-7:45 – turn up heat, turn on lights and sound, unlock buildings, check bathrooms, rearrange furniture, direct traffic, greet guests, play piano, open and close in prayer, present nine-minute homily as featured speaker, and provide after-service counseling at the Community Candlelight Remembrance Service sponsored by Mayers Memorial Hospital District/Intermountain Hospice and hosted by The Glenburn Community Church; 8:00 – get home and eat dinner and at some point fall into bed.
Saturday, 8:00-10:00a – change batteries, test equipment, unwrap candy-canes & fill Santa’s sack, greet Santa and Mrs. Claus, go over final instructions in preparation for “Laptop Photography” at Santa’s Workshop; 10:55-6:15 – Transport and set-up equipment, briefly train new assistant, photograph children and others on Santa’s lap as well as other portions of the Santa’s Workshop craft and art show, tear-down and transport equipment, thank and pay new assistant, have lunch with Santa and Mrs. Claus (thank and pay them, too), crop and adjust photos for packages bought as well as thank you gifts to others—all while receiving reports on the progress of the furnace issues, the reopening of a local restaurant, potential mandarin orange sales at the church, and a variety of physical-mental-emotional-spiritual health needs of friends, congregants, community members, and total strangers—then, uploading and ordering prints of the above; 6:15-9:15 – watch Ohio State lose to Michigan State in the Big Ten Championship Game while returning phone calls regarding family crises (one personal, one congregational); 9:15-10:30 – review sermon and service notes for Sunday worship at Glenburn.
Sunday, 5:00-7:00a give up on sleeping until 6:00 and writing this blog post instead; 7:00-8:00 – review sermon and service notes; 9:00a-1:00p – Sunday services, etc.; 1:30-early evening – Ornament-making in Johnson Park. (Johnson Park is a town, not an outdoor gathering place—the current “real feel temperature” is seventeen-below, but the high today should reach 29…which will feel like 32, they promise!)
Monday, 9:00a-3:00p – office hours, counseling, and whatever else is waiting for me on voice-mail and on the loveseats in my office; 5:00-9:00 or so – open and close in prayer, play piano, present nine-minute homily as featured speaker, and provide after-service counseling at the Community Candlelight Remembrance Service sponsored by Mayers Memorial Hospital District/Intermountain Hospice and hosted by Burney Presbyterian Community Church; have dinner with Hospice staff and volunteers; come home and fall into bed.
I have warned my congregation that if they call me on Tuesday morning, they deserve to hear “raw emotion expressed with brutal honesty.” (That perspective on some of David’s psalms is actually the theme of my homily from the Community Candlelight Remembrance Services. But I’m sure it will apply to those phone calls, as it may soon apply as well to some of the ongoing bumps, detours, and construction delays in my doctoral program. But I’ll keep the language clean. I promise.)
(here endeth the litany for today – more to follow)