Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Curse Of The Lutherans

The following list was compiled by a 20th century Lutheran who, observing other Lutherans, wrote down exactly what he saw or heard:

1. Lutherans believe in prayer, but would practically die if asked to pray out loud.
2. Lutherans like to sing, except when confronted with a new hymn or a hymn with more than four stanzas.
3. Lutherans believe their pastors will visit them in the hospital, even if they don't notify them that they are there.
4. Lutherans usually follow the official liturgy and will feel it is their way of suffering for their sins.
5. Lutherans believe in miracles and even expect miracles, especially during their stewardship visitation programs or when passing the plate.
6. Lutherans feel that applauding for their children's choirs would make the kids too proud and conceited.
7. Lutherans think that the Bible forbids them from crossing the aisle while passing the peace.
8. Lutherans drink coffee as if it were the Third Sacrament.
9. Some Lutherans still believe that an ELCA bride and an LCMS groom make for a mixed marriage.
10. Lutherans feel guilty for not staying to clean up after their own wedding reception in the Fellowship Hall.
11. Lutherans are willing to pay up to one dollar for a meal at church.
12. Lutherans think that Garrison Keillor stories are totally factual.
13. Lutherans still serve Jell-O in the proper liturgical color of the season and think that peas in a tuna noodle casserole adds too much color.
14. Lutherans believe that it is OK to poke fun at themselves and never take themselves too seriously.

And finally, you know when you're a Lutheran when: It's 100 degrees, with 90% humidity, and you still have coffee after the service.
You hear something really funny during the sermon and smile as loudly as you can!
Donuts are a line item in the church budget, just like coffee.
The communion cabinet is open to all, but the coffee cabinet is locked up tight.
All your relatives graduated from a school named Concordia.
When you watch a "Star Wars" movie and they say, May the Force be with you, you respond, "and also with you."
You actually understand those folks from Lake Wobegon, MN.
And lastly, it takes ten minutes to say good-bye.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

"Don't let them pigeon-hole you."

These were the wise words my Hebrew Bible professor, Gwen Sayler, gave to me the weekend of my graduation from seminary. I had just secured my spot in the Central/Southern Illinois Synod through the assignment process, and was excitedly awaiting the next step on my journey to 'pastorhood.'

I knew in my heart that my leadership skills were more conducive to a team ministry setting, and so I prayed that an opportunity like that would open up. As God's grace would have it, I was eventually called to St. Matthew Lutheran church in Urbana, Illinois as "The Associate Pastor for Youth and Family Ministry and Educaton.'"Almost 4 years later (3 years,10 months, and 8 days--but who's counting) I am still here and LOVING it. However, there are times when the title of my position irks me, and the implications that go with it.

When my Papa (my grandpa on my mom's side) was in the seminary (Augustana-Rock Island, which no longer exists as a seminary) and in parish ministry, the term 'Assistant Pastor' was widely used for a second pastor who wasn't technically the 'Senior Pastor.' Their duties varied, but most people in the congregation viewed the 'Assistant' as just that--an assistant to the Sr. Pastor. Hence, the 'Assistant' wasn't really 'THE Pastor' but a side-kick who helps out 'the REAL' Pastor. Gwen warned me of this, but I never really thought it would bother me until I actually became a real, bonafide pastor. It does. I will admit it.

It bothers me that I have had an equal amount of education and pretty much the same semantics of call as my colleague, yet I am still viewed (to some, not all) as "the assistant." This irritation reared its ugly head again last night during my Confirmation class, as one of my 7th graders said "You're not the Pastor, you're the Associate." It also bothers me in all of our written documentation about our congregation that the names of staff reads:

Pastor: Bob Rasmus
Associate Pastor: Julia Rademacher

Why couldn't read Pastor: Bob Rasmus
Pastor: Julia Rademacher

I even would have less of an issue with it if it just said Senior Pastor: Bob Rasmus
Associate Pastor: Julia Rademacher
The first example just seems to me like my title isn't really a real pastor or something...or maybe I am just think I am right on this one.

I realize that I will not be at St. Matthew forever, and that one day I probably will be a solo pastor or possibly even a Sr. Pastor (although I don't really want to be at this point). I guess I was just hoping that all that hype that was conveyed in sem wasn't going to actually be true. Associates often get a bum rap. It's true. I, fortunately, have a congregation that even though that mindset is around, my colleague doesn't view me as an 'assistant' and MOST of the time, the congregation does view me as one of two pastors.

Yikes. Gwen, bet you never thought I was listening that closely didya.