I've started my reading for my last residential module at SSU. I will be there again for two weeks this March and after that I only have my thesis or project in order to complete my work. Only.
The first book that I chose to start my reading with for this cycle was written in 1984. I’ll tell you more about it another time. This time what I want to tell you is that I've discovered all my original thoughts about ministry, my core convictions about pastoring that no one else in the world shares with me, those beliefs about and philosophy of ministry that make me the odd duck when I have conversations with other pastors – they were all written down in 1984.
To compound this revelation the inspiration for the book comes from a man who lived and died before the current calendar hit A.D. 1000.
So it turns out some of my most ‘original’ ideas that I was planning to write my thesis on have been around for just about 1550 years.
In many ways this discovery sums up my experience at SSU. Pursuing this degree has been as much an education about me as it has been about the subjects we've covered. First I learned how much I did not know that I thought I knew. Or it might be more accurate to say how much I had to unlearn. And now I am faced with how unoriginal I really am.
And I'm happy to discover this.
I can’t tell you – meaning I won’t tell you – about all the times I've been in conversations with groups of pastors and heard the song from Sesame Street playing in my head, “one of these things is not like the others, one of these things just doesn't belong, can you tell me which thing is not like the others …”. In reading for the different modules I've stumbled on men and women separated by time, geography, experience, ethnicity and education who have already learned or concluded or discovered what blood, sweat and tears have led me to believe. Don’t misunderstand me though, I'm not suggesting I'm in the majority. Hardly. But there’s a certain peace I have found, a quiet confirmation that I am not alone and I am not crazy – or at least I'm not crazy by myself.
I'm not that smart but this much I know, there is a way to follow Jesus and lead a church community that leans into and onto incarnation and invitation. Others have gone there before me. I am not alone.