Sh!t or Get Off the Pot

Upon recommendation I have started watching “Rev.” It is a BBC show on Hulu+ about a vicar that moves from the quant English countryside to a rough urban parish that attracts riff raff, few congregants, and a seemingly unending flow of crisis.

I watched this show and it resonated with me deeply. I am in my tenth month of spiritual crisis. I have not been in a continuous crisis. I vacillate between belief and unbelief with a huge advantage towards unbelief.

In the last episode of season one the vicar, Adam, is deep in a spiritual crisis. He has an apathetic congregation at best. The congregation struggles with money and its future. The congregation wrestles with identity. Adam is stuck in the middle wonder to what have I committed my life too and why the fuck do I do this? There is little appreciation, support, and it’s a huge financial burden for him to be a vicar.

He attends a party and drinks far too much and embarrasses himself. He gets in to a fight with his wife, who tells him to go home. He grabs a falafel and confronts a group of school-aged hooligans hanging out in the park near the church.

In the heat of the moment he confronts the hooligans and the police arrive to take Adam to hospital to perform last rites over a dying believer. In a crisis of faith he fights the officer over weather if he is the right person to do this.

The police officer asks, “Well, you are the vicar?” Adam recites, “And then I heard Abba’s voice: “Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?” I spoke up, “I’ll go. Send me! [Isaiah 6:8].” Adam sobers up and pulls off his booze soaked surplice and enters the room to perform the last rite.

I have days where I believe. Those days are glorious. In the presence of adversity, difficult news, and the reality of my vocational prospects I manage on some days to believe.

There are days where unbelief reigns. The hardship of life, the daunting tasks that surround redefining ones expectations in life, and the insatiable task of searching for ones identity overtake what faith I have. These are the days I sit under my tree and curse God.

The desert I have wandered for the last ten months has proven formidable. There has been oasis to rest in. There have been numerous kind souls that have offered me water, food, and listened to my story. I have not forgotten about the people and ways that have sustained me up to this point.

I still feel a dry living faith within me. I wonder if God hears me or if I am doing all of this religious hocus pocus right. I wrestle to preach truth to my congregation. I pray, hoping that it helps in some way. I doubt more than have faith.

I wonder why I am in ministry. I wonder that that fact I cannot find full time work in ministry is has a bearing upon my call. Am I not finding full time work in a church because I am not called?

I feel alone as if I am the only one that wrestles with this. I search the news of colleagues in ministry that I respect and see they are doing well. Well, they are in full time ministry. I look at my call and wonder, “why?”

So much of my doubt, anger, and rage are wrapped up in the financial burden I bear in student loans and in me not having full time employment. I wonder out loud that if I had another way to pay bills and pay off these loans would I attend church? Would I be involved in the church if I had no financial ties to it? I believe I would not. In this moment in time I believe I would walk away if I could.

Of course I could walk away. I am not captive by the church. I am bound to pay these debts incurred in pursuit of ordination and service to the church. The church is not burdened by the debt.

I stood up and asked to be sent. I offered my life in service. Jesus did not hide that all of me was required. I had hoped that the all included liberation from unjust financial practices and church bureaucracy that impedes me from paying down my loans.

I wrestle with the limits, definitions, and geography of church and the people of the church. There are good people that have had great experiences within the same systems that abused and exploited me. I try to celebrate the good, the success of my colleagues in ministry as they forge a way forward in this mess. [1]

So much has to change in me, in us, in the church in order to prepare good soil. It is not a matter of resources as much as it is a matter of faith. Do we believe that the God we worship and proclaim is a God of abundance or scarcity? We need to shit or get off the pot with church growth and missional actions. We’ve been too long in the bathroom and there are others waiting to go.

[1] This mess we are in is a failing of the church to believe in the abundance of God and the hording or resources by a few as the many suffer. Our sin is no different that that of this nation. We have sold out the future, the young to maintain our standards and comforts. The sacrifices by those that answer the call today are not sustainable. No one can carry the debt we do in the climate of little to no opportunity and make for a fertile ground to plant and harvest the seeds of Christ. Sure, God can do what God wills. This is a reminder not an excuse. We as the church must invest in the future and spread the sacrifice to all. We have enough for everyone to survive. We have plenty to support each other and minister to the world.

2 thoughts on “Sh!t or Get Off the Pot

  1. Tracie says:

    Beautiful honest writing. Thank you. Sometimes we think belief/faith are so easy and they just aren’t. I’m at peace knowing someone who inspires me struggles with the same issues I do. You’re pretty awesome!

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