But it's a great illustration of what a mess we can let our "archives" get into if we're not doing the occasional "archaeological dig" to sort, file and (most importantly ... TOSS!)
So, on a recent foray in MY own archive land (spurred onto greater organization and cleanliness by the example of several office colleagues who are moving offices and therefore cleaning up under duress!) I found a file labelled "Favorite Papers" ... and it turned out to be an eclectic assortment of favorite papers from seminary.
The one that caught my fancy was an assignment to describe our "pastoral theology" ... and I read through it wondering what on earth I thought I knew about pastoral theology in seminary!
Here's an artifact from the archaeological dig:
My understanding of the role of the pastor is grounded in my understanding of ministry, which is based on the following theological understanding: God has a purpose for this creation and God is active in history bringing that purpose to pass. Ministry is choosing to participate in that purpose, which I believe is the restoration of a creation intended to be good and healthy and whole.
Jesus modeled for us what it was to live in a broken world as if it were whole. The role of the church is to be Jesus on earth: to function as the Body of Christ and to model in our own time what Jesus modeled in his: a broad, inclusive love that draws humanity and God together.
That we are still so very far from that goal can be attributed to a number of factors, but is expressed for me most clearly by Verna Dozier in "The Dream of God:"
Clergy and laity are beginning to realize that the kingdom of God will never become the reality God dreamed as long as part of the laos ["people of God"] struggles to maintain an institution while the other part drops by on holy days to participate in an archaic ritual that has no effect on the life they are leading the rest of the time.
And -- interestingly enough -- 16 years later, I'm not sure I'd change a word.
Happy Lent, Everybody!