Friday, July 27, 2007

Who Are You?

(Continuing the inadvertent Babylon 5 line of postings) A Pastor needs to remember in the exercise of his office what exactly he is. What does it mean to be a Pastor, what responsibilities does that entail? You can't fulfill your office unless you are more than aware of what it is. So thus the question, who are you?

Of all the titles for the Office of the Public Ministry, I like "Pastor" the best - for I believe it is the most accurate. Father? Well, not quite. I've never had the right to bend a parishoner over my knee, or ground them. Fathers have a lot of kingdom of the left power that I don't. Reverend? Well, that's how I officially sign stuff - but is my relationship to my people defined by the fact that I am revered? That I ought to be revered on the basis of my office? There are better titles. Preacher? Well, that's not too bad. . . and preaching is the main thing I do - but what about teaching? Rabbi would be more accurate than preacher. Or baptizing? Preacher just doesn't cover it.

But Pastor - Pastor does. "Shepherd" is a great word - it describes in a figurative way everything that I am to do. I stand in the place and stead of Christ, the Good Shepherd, and my job is to lead the people he places into my care. I am to see that they are fed on good food, I am to see that they lay down where they ought. I am to protect them against false prophets who would snatch them away. So far, so good.

But here is where the term Pastor is most appropriate. What about when the sheep. . . aren't that wonderful to me. As a Father, my job is to discipline an erring child (I'll give you something to cry about). As a Reverend, my job is to see that my respect is upheld. As a Preacher, my job is to. . . well, preach. . . or start a new church on the corner. But as a Pastor - that hits the nail. I am not to take offense - for this is what happens with sheep. Indeed, I am to go after the wandering sheep and try my best to return it to the fold.

"Pastor" is a great image for what we do. Maybe we should abandon the Latin and just start calling ourselves "Shepherds" - of course, that's just the Firefly fan in me (huh, must be Sci-Fi Friday - hmmm. . . no, saying we are Wookies to Jesus' Han doesn't work) - just because no one knows what Pastor means. It sounds smarmy, and I used to laugh when people said it - but our job really is to love our people - and not bear grudges against them. Now, it isn't love as the world loves - but it is selfless and self-giving -- as a Shepherd cares for the sheep and leads them gently, even when they go astray, so the Pastor.

Who are you? You are a Pastor.

1 comment:

Emily H. said...

Who am I? - not a pastor! :)
Sometimes I think it would be easier on my end if my husband went by Father rather than Pastor. Between remembering to call him "Daddy" to the kids and "Pastor" to the parishoners, it sometimes gets confusing. "Father" would take care of that problem - no matter who I would talk to, I would always be right!