My snarky and sarcastic side imagines a sermon in which I dramatically remove the cross from the communion table and replace it with a toilet paper holder. In this fantasy, I would point out that our focus should be on the teachings of Jesus rather than toilet paper.
Of course, my pastoral and rational side knows that would be counterproductive and arguably blasphemous. It would also be mean.
I am a part-time pastor. As such, I am very conscious of how I spend my time. I accepted a part-time call so that I had time to work on writing and photography, with a future book in mind. Days like today remind me how I’ve failed at making my non-church endeavors a priority. It also reminds me of not only my humanity but that of those inside the church.
Part-time ministry is challenging. No matter the size of the church there is always something more that needs to be done: someone who could use a visit, a a liturgy that needs tweaking, or study and preparation for a sermon. Ministry can also be filled with issues that, at least on the surface, seem to be silly and absurd.
Today I had a lengthy discussion about the toilet paper holder in our two women’s rooms. The absurdity is that I’ve had multiple discussions about this issue and thought it was solved. Like so many things in the church, everyone has an opinion. Like so many things in the church this is as much about personalities, hurt feelings, and woundedness that has little to do with TP or even the church itself, as it is about a toilet paper holder.
My already busy schedule for tomorrow now has multiple conversations I’d not anticipated. Though I laugh to myself at the superficial absurdity of the attention this requires, I know these will be critical pastoral encounters. Folks need to be heard. Hurts are real. Power relationships are in need of realignment.
Folks need to feel the presence of God as we strive to grow as community. And, so today I laugh to myself, I fantasize about TP on the Lord’s Table, and I pray. I pray the extravagant spirit of love uses me for good. I pray that as flawed human beings we — myself included — grow in our communication skills, are slow to point fingers, and are willing to forgive.