As a single pastor, I was vaguely dating someone who attended worship one Sunday and a helpful/nosy parishioner about the age of my grandfather asked my semi-significant other: “What are your intentions with our pastor?” Oh, the joys of being The Single Pastor.
It occurs to me many years later that intentions are huge in life and ministry. I marvel at the way my own twenty-something children are being intentional in their work and money decisions, while I had many years of just “letting things happen to me.”
I wonder, though, how much less intentional we are about our spiritual lives.
There are days when – honestly – I could leave The Church. The so-not-important stuff seems to overwhelm the important stuff. My ministry reveals that dark underbelly of humanity – only in spiritual communities which feels even darker. My job responsibilities involve getting called when somebody lies/cheats/plagiarizes/throws things. (Really. I’ve been called when somebody threw things.)
But then I remember that being part of The Beloved Community involves being intentional: I am going to be intentional about giving thanks, confessing my sins, reflecting on the sins of the universe (i.e. racism, sexism, greed, meanness) and discerning how I might live in a way that reflects the love of God. I am going to be intentional about studying Scripture and telling the stories of my faith. I am going to be intentional about singing what I believe. I am going to be intentional about praying with and for people because it brings us closer to each other and to God.
I am pathetically lame at being a disciple of Jesus unless I make the commitment to be intentional.
I also wonder about our church people who cross the thresholds of countless church buildings on Sunday mornings and throughout the weekend because It’s What They Do/It’s What They Have Always Done, but there is no intentionality about this particular activity. They/we sort of wander in and wander out. A good experience means we saw some friends and got to sing a song we like.
What if we expected a profound experience?
What are our intentions when we gather as God’s people? I believe that the answer to this question determines whether or not our faith communities will thrive in these changing days.
Image of the ceiling of the Chicago Cultural Center, mostly because I just like it.