One of the problems of working in the parish and the chaplaincy is trying to balance both. Last week was a chaplaincy week. This week was a parish week. The first half of the week was clergy conference. Thursday evening was Bible Study. Friday evening was a parish potluck with the Bishop and this evening I went out with two families from the parish for Ethiopian food at the latest restaurant to open in Lethbridge. The nice thing about classes being over and lots of students being gone is that it is easier to flex my time. So chaplaincy work got done in the cracks around the parish this week - makes up for all the times of the year when it is the other way around.
A lot of neat things happened the last couple of days. We're doing a Bible study on the book of Revelation and it has been really interesting. Not every one is thrilled with the book. I'm having a hard time convincing folks that the message is really one of hope - they hear a lot of judgment in it. I've been reading Barbara Rossing's book The Rapture Exposed: The Message of Hope in the Book of Revelation and I like her take on it.
The really neat part of the Bible study was when I asked them what message they thought the Spirit had for our parish. There was general agreement that the parish was a warm and caring community but that we could do more to reach out and serve the community outside our doors. They talked about the young people in the town of Coaldale and their worries for them. I talked about the ministry of one of our priests in Aboriginal ministry and my concerns about how to support him. We agreed that we would pursue this with others from the parish.
Last night's dinner was really good too. We had a good turnout and it was a laid back casual time for people to meet our new Bishop. There was loads of food too. My theory, based on 12+ years of ministry and many many church potlucks, is that there is a directly relationship between the amount of food at potlucks and the health of a congregation. When people want to be there and want to make other people welcome they bring lots of food. I've been to potlucks where we ran out of food before everyone has gone through the line and usually there were problems in the life of that community.
Tonight I went out with friends to try our new Ethiopian restaurant and we had a great time. These folks are like family and the food was really good. After dinner we left the adults to visit and the kids and I walked down the street to get ice cream. As we walked by a window I realized one of the kids is now 5" taller than me. He was two when I started in the parish and now he towers over me. Sigh. We laughed lots - it was a really fun evening.
One of the things I was told when I started in ministry was that it was really important to have friends outside the parish and outside the church generally. I'm really grateful for the community of friends I have outside the church. When I was ordained I had a very large family section in the church and almost none of them came up for communion. It was very funny. At the same time, the friendships I have found in the parish and in the larger church community bring me great joy.
Tomorrow I'm bbqing with two of my Lethbridge family and I've rented the William Shatner roast for afterwards. I'm hoping they are game to watch it. I'm in the mood for a little Denny Crane and we've watched all of Seasons one and two of Boston Legal already.