About two months ago I realized that our weekly worship services were not leaving me with the feeling of having 'worshipped.' One of the blessings of being in a multi-pastor congregation is that there is at least one service every Sunday where I don't have to preach ~ and can listen to the sermon. Yet, for the first time, I was feeling like that wasn't quite enough. It could have something to do with the upcoming changes in my ministry location and the stress and grief of having to say good- bye. Whatever the reason, on Monday morning I was feeling brittle in a way I had not before.
So I decided to find a mid-week service to attend at another church. Since the only local Protestant churches with mid-week services were the ultra-fundementalists ones, I started attending a Catholic Mass ~ weekly on Wednesdays. It is a short service, about 30 minutes, with Scripture, music, prayer, homily and Eucharist. While I do not recieve the Eucharist ~ being a Protestant and Methodist pastor at that ~ I still feel blessed by the richness of the liturgy.
One of the reasons that I think this experience has been such a blessing is that it is a place where I can go and simply be me. I have no responsibility if things go well or not. I'm not Pastor Krista. I don't have to have input into the service. No one is going to ask me my opinion about anything.
In his book Clergy Self Care: Finding a Balance for Effective Ministry Roy Oswald calls this "Extra-Dependence." We oscillate between Intra-Dependence and Extra-Dependence on a daily basis. Intra-Dependence is the part of our life where we have responsibilty and people look to us to be in charge. This could be at home or at work or in any variety of areas where we have leadership. Extra-Dependence is the part of our life where we don't have to be in charge... the part of our life where we can be cared for, relax and have fun.
Clergy, I suspect, spend much of life in Extra-Dependence. Whether we realize it or not, we are often taking care of others' needs. We are the responsible ones. In relation to what I shared above, Sunday morning in my church is not the primary place for me to work out my grief about leaving. As pastor, it is my responsibiliy and role to care for others in their greif ~ whether it is their grief about my leaving or something else going on in their life. So I needed to find a place where I could work out my own feelings in worship, prayer and praise. Roy Oswald states, "Periodocally we need to move into a state where we do not have to be in charge and can allow ourselves to be cared for." Amen to that!
No one has to worry that I am going to leave behind my Methodist roots and become Catholic! But I am glad I gave myself this freedom to explore and I strongly suspect that my prayer life and my ministry has been enriched by it. For this I thank God ~ who is God of all!