Archive for Priest

2015 Lent 19

Posted in Lent 2015 with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 11, 2015 by timtrue

This shot pretty much sums up everything.

Jeremiah 8:18–9:6

If nothing else, I’m learning that the Prophet Jeremiah’s heart was much like what I understand a pastor’s heart to be.  For he saw all the complexities that make up human nature–or, if you prefer, the human condition.

He was able to say, on the one hand, “Beware of your neighbors, and put no trust in any of your kin.”  For he knew, like Shakespeare, that man–the human person–is a piece of work.  Each of us is capable of the most treacherous of acts.

At the same time, on the other hand, he knew genuine joy and health.  There were poor people in the land who remained faithful, trustworthy, and honest despite the looming darkness of war and threat of death.  Some people–if only but a few–valued and practiced integrity regardless.

The human person is capable of both: honor and treachery.

Our culture has a certain fixation on the dark side of a hero.  Did you see Big Hero 6?  It was touted as a kid’s movie.  But the protagonist, a boy of twelve or thirteen, witnessed the death of his older brother near the movie’s beginning and ends up haunted by his own related demons throughout the rest of the story.  Mature themes for a kid’s movie if you ask me!

Our culture recognizes that real life is full of just these sorts of demons.  We’ve come to understand that dysfunctional is the norm and functional is more of an ideal.  The human person is complicated.  It’s not just that a person can be capable of either honor or treachery, good or bad; but, we say, the human person is both honorable and treacherous, good and bad.

Jeremiah shows me that it’s not just our modern-day, psychology-loving culture that understands people.  Jeremiah understood people back in the day (something like 2600 years ago!).  Even earlier, when someone wrote the book of Genesis (maybe more than 3000 years ago), the message of a complicated humanity calls out loudly and clearly.

Anyway, my prayer is that I, too, living in my modern-day, psychology-loving culture, will understand the rich complexities of the people I’ve been called to serve; and, like Jeremiah, will love them and lead them, even arguing with God for them when need be.

A Funkless Week

Posted in Doing Church with tags , , , on October 18, 2013 by timtrue

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I don’t know, something about settling in distracts me, I suppose.

I’ve been in my position four months now as of yesterday.  Not too long a time, I know; but long enough to have settled into something of a routine.  I’ve preached the last five Sundays in a row, with a sixth facing me; and adjusted to the constant weekly barrage of preparing and teaching other various lessons or preaching sundry sermons.  Then there are the daily greetings of students with their comings and goings from school.  Not to mention the good fellowship with my colleagues.  I have a great job.

But this is easy to forget.  The initial concentration of compliments on my preaching and teaching has been diluted.  The novelty has passed.  The honeymoon is over.  The parishioners are used to me.

But the criticisms persist.  They have become even more concentrated–perhaps an inversely proportional relationship to the compliments–showing up in subtle and not so subtle ways.  I’m thin-skinned.  So when they do show up–and they always do–I need to recognize them for what they are, take them with a grain of salt, whatever.  But my thin skin wants to make more of them than it should.  I slip into a funk.

It’s a balancing act, being a public figure, like walking a tightrope.

Well, this week has been one of those funkless weeks, on the happier side of things, where I realize just how great my job–no, my vocation–is, where criticisms can’t seem to permeate my thin skin, no matter how they try.  Blessings are seemingly without number.

One of my daughters will study abroad next semester in Italy.  I’m tacitly jealous, sure, for I’ve never been to Italy, let alone Europe!  But I’d do it lickety-split in her shoes.  And Florence of all cities!

My son is showing real signs of musical prodigy.  As a musician myself, and as he is child number five, I’ve known all along that he shows a lot of promise.  But this week I had a professional, world-class music director say the same thing.  Now, what to do with it?

My wife has been posting old family photos on Facebook, reminding me of incredible times we’ve shared as a family these last twenty years.  No one teaches you this in college, but day-to-day family life is more valuable than most things.

Friends and colleagues are boosting my confidence: despite the fact that I’m a new priest, something of a newborn really, my previous experience indeed matters to them.  Of course, the challenge now is discerning my place in the Episcopal Church before my curacy comes to fruition.

Then there’s my friend Tim, a college professor.  I’ve always looked at college professors with something of an envy.  It’s a great job!  They create their own curriculum and get to teach it.  How cool is that!  Also, they get to research and write about things they are truly interested in.  Again, cool!  And as for summers!  Who wouldn’t want to travel to various parts of the world on grant funding to research and study, and have a little time left over to take in some incredible sites?

But this week Tim took an interest in my vocation.  “Now that you’re a curate,” he asked, “what’s next?  Will you be appointed somewhere else?”

“No,” I answered.  “In the Episcopal Church, or at least in this part of it, priests are typically assigned to their first position, a curacy.  But after that they can pick and choose, like most other jobs.”

“I see,” he said.  “Does that mean you could theoretically go anywhere in the country?”

“Yeah, and even a lot of places in the world.  There’s a global Anglican communion.”

“That is really awesome.”

“Yeah, it is.”

So, in the same way I can sometimes cast an envious eye upon the professorial profession, it seems so the professor has cast an eye toward me.  Which reminds me of how good I have it.

Anyway, enough said.  This too–the happier side of things, that is–will pass, I know.  Still, it’s been good to have a funkless week.

The Blog Begins

Posted in Rationale with tags , , , , , , on June 20, 2013 by timtrue

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For years I’ve lurked in the shadows of cyberspace.  I’ve watched as a friend decides to follow a recent fad, becomes quite passionate about it, persuades me to jump on the band wagon too because, don’t you know, everyone is doing it, it’s the new printing press and you don’t want to be left behind after all, do you?  Only then, too often, and often quite soon, the zeal fades, the fad fizzles, and the friend is left with another username and password for the archives of the mind.  And cyberspace is that much more cluttered.

So has gone my rationale for putting off a blog.  “It won’t last,” I’d tell myself, “your interest in it will go out like a neglected birthday candle.  No one’s gonna be reading blogs in a couple of years.  Just watch.  You’ll see.”  Or I’d discourage myself with thoughts of maintenance.  Who wants to take the time to keep up with a blog, checking it every day, corresponding with followers, and so on?  So I pushed the thought of starting one aside.  Again.  And again.

Then I went off to seminary, to become a master of divinity.  Now the academic load was rigorous, certainly too busy and full for someone to start and maintain a blog, especially when that someone has five kids to keep fed, clothed, driven to and from soccer practice, and otherwise happy.

Yet all through these years the fad didn’t fizzle.  Blogs continued to flourish, all over cyberspace.

So now it is my turn.  I’m beginning a blog.

But it’s not because I’m finally getting with the program or jumping on the band wagon or participating in any other cliché of preference.  Instead, for one thing, I like to write.  Anyone who knows me knows that I have written for regular publications–informal newsletters and the like–for years.  Some know too that I have written a book and three-quarters with another mapped out in my head, a ghost story in fact.

For another, the time is right.  Having just graduated from seminary as a master of divinity (whatever that means), and having more recently begun a job as a curate with an Episcopal parish in San Antonio, I am at a real turning point in life.  I will be ordained as an Episcopal priest on July 7.

This blog will serve a real purpose then: a journal to map out my pilgrimage as a priest.

To round out this inaugural post, then, I offer a few comments on blog choices.  First, my title, vivens in sacerdotium, is Latin for “living into the priesthood.”  I chose this title because it suggests that the priesthood is a calling, a true vocation, not what I do but who I am.  The “living” part of the title is a present active participle, suggesting that my calling is an ongoing thing, that I can and should be ever increasing and growing in my calling as a priest.

The Latin hopefully conveys that there’s a lot more to me than whatever your stereotypical understanding of a collared man of the cloth is.  I taught Latin for a number of years prior to becoming a priest–and may even continue teaching it if an opportunity presents itself.  That, and my many other deep interests–in music, philosophy, family, education, and motorcycles, to name but a few–all shape who I am as I live into my vocation.

Finally, the blog’s color scheme is the same as my motorcycle’s: I couldn’t pass this format up.

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