This week we started an adult learning series on Christian mysticism. If you are like most of us, the first question might be either, “Why?” or, “What the heck is that?” When we use words like “mystic” or “mystical,” it generally makes us think of things “other-worldly” or mysterious. In a sense, this
would be true. “Mystery” shares its root with “mystic.” As people who think of ourselves as “real,” firmly planted in the “real world,” we may not think ourselves to be mystics by any means. Mysticism, we think, is the realm of monks, nuns, hermits, and those who have visions and weird dreams.
Pastor Pam Schroeder has officially ended her ministry at Holy Trinity. Easter Sunday was her last official act. On Passion Sunday we bid her farewell and released her from her service in worship. As I write, I think she is on her way to the Netherlands for a well-deserved vacation. Her office is empty, and her emails are flowing into my mailbox!
Lillian Daniel and Martin Copenhauer authored a book several years ago entitled This Odd and Wondrous Calling: The Public and Private Lives of Two Ministers. I think of this book as I reflect on my years in ministry. Ordained ministry is a wonderous calling. Over the past 30 years I have served in a variety of churches and as a hospice chaplain. There were joys and challenges throughout the journey. Each congregation and setting had its own personality. All have been on a journey to be faithful to their mission. I am blessed to have walked along with them.
Secularization is a big word used to describe a long-term trend in our culture. It refers to the simple fact that all sense of the Holy has been drained out of our existence. When everything and everyone becomes an object useful only for my enjoyment or my purchase, nothing is sacred or holy anymore. The only subject that matters is me because everything is about me. There is nothing bigger than me, beyond what I can consume or enjoy. Life becomes watered down to a simple hedonism – “Eat. Drink. Be merry (not happy or joyous). For tomorrow we die."