Thursday, April 22, 2010

As Marvin K. Mooney would say...

Truth be told, as a kiddo I was never a big fan of Dr. Seuss. I preferred reality to fantasy. I liked my characters three dimensional and my situations true to life. I didn't believe in Sam and wondered why in the hell he'd ever want green eggs. I mean, surely, the Surgeon General would never approve of them.

As a parent, though, I appreciate Dr. Seuss because he provides some monotony to the night-time readings. Fox on Socks was revolutionary to me. Tongue-twisters at nigh? What a challenge (I mean, really, I've already worked an 8+ hour day)! And Go, Dog, Go? A dog-party? Really? Dude, sign me up. I love me some chewy toys and big tree-house parties. Dr. Seuss became a whole new language that I, type-A personality that I can occasionally be, wanted to conquer!

So, okay...I've got no segue-way that is decent and honorable in writing tradition to the next paragraph. I'm sorry, Dr. Klingler (beloved English professor).

Maybe the segue-way, unnatural as it is, is this. Marvin K. Mooney, brainchild of Dr. Seuss, he who was commanded by the unnamed "other" to "please go now," seems to be urging me to a new world. Call it the Marvin K. Mooney of the Holy Spirit. A world of sermons, and church-growth, and pastoral care. A world of stay-up-past-midnight-on-Saturday-night exegeting a passage in the Old Testament and a world of making sure the church is locked after the late stewardship meeting. And my heart lurches and flutters and says, "Oh yes, yes. It's time..."

And I'm not sure I ever thought I'd say that again.

I have been selected as the candidate of a sweet little church in southwest Fort Wayne of which I feel infinitely undeserving. I find myself pulling old files labeled "Pentecost" and "Advent" and "Liturgical Resources" and "Evangelism" out of boxes covered in dust and stored for years in our garage that I, for almost a decade, assumed would find their way to the trash heap.

The congregation will listen to a trial sermon and vote the third week in May. And, in the meantime, I'll hold my breath and pray that the power that commanded Marvin is the Holy Spirit that leads me.

While there are parts of me that ache as I think of leaving Hospice work. While I think of my colleagues in the "trenches" and want to stay near them. I also know that five years is significant. And that I have served my time on the front lines of dying. And I need to rest and refill myself by seeking new life in the parish again.

The time has come, the time is now....

Christen Pettit Miller, will you please go now!

Saturday, April 03, 2010


"Give us the inner listening/that is a way in itself/and the oldest thirst there is."

I confess. I had forgotten the process.

The reading of the word. The living into the story. The embracing of the essence. The grasping for the truth.

The process of the journey of birthing a sermon.

It has only been three years since I preached on a weekly basis at a sweet little interim pastorate in Huntington, only six months or so since I stood in a pulpit last as I provided some pulpit supply for the U.C.C., but already I had forgotten the rituals, the routines of sermon crafting.

It is windy this afternoon, appropriate for a sermon about Jesus in the midst of a storm. Grayson is out with his grandparents. Robert drinks tea quietly at the kitchen table. Apart from the Bach motets playing softly, it is quiet here.

How had I forgotten how delightful it is to be pulled into scripture? To fall into uncovering exegetical mysteries I had never known? To pause, sip my tea and watch out the window as questions swirl around in my head?

For the past week each three-mile run I take is without my customary I-pod. As my feet pound rhythmically I contemplate the text. I allow it to live in me, to consume me. I come home and need to stop thinking, so that my subconscious mind, the voice of the Spirit can draw forth new truths. Last Wednesday I lay awake at 3:20 in the morning, light of the full moon shining in the room and puzzled questions of theodicy again.

How had I forgotten that preaching feels so much like coming home? How had I forgotten the sudden epiphany that comes when a thought clicks? When a metaphor names what I know? When the ineffable can be phrased?

My soul is slowly reawakening to that inner listening. And I am not as thirsty as I once was.