I’ve been reading for about the third time the book by Bishop Bo Giertz, The Hammer of God. I read it this time with much more pressing interest than before. These days my mind has been occupied with things pertaining to the Ministry, the proper and right use of the keys, and more. I enjoyed my vicarage, but the problem is, you are not actually a pastor. You are not charged with the use of the Keys, and you don’t really get to work with difficult situations under the tutelage of an older, more experienced pastor. Your vicarage supervisor takes care of that stuff.
I wonder sometimes if instead of having vicarage while still as yet unordained, it wouldn’t be better to send our men to a parish, where they serve (as in The Hammer of God) in the capacity of a curate, under the guidance of a rector. Then, at least, you are getting your feet wet with real situations, and you have all the authority of the Office to bring to bear, but you can do so under the wisdom and guidance of a more seasoned veteran of the Ministry. I’m not saying that this would work well in every situation. Some supervisors undoubtedly would have very little counsel to give.
Having been in the Ministry for over eight years now, I still feel very much like these curates in Giertz’ book. Thankfully, I have some very wise fellow pastors in my circuit, and in my family whose advice and counsel has been invaluable at times.
At any rate, this is such a fantastic book, and it gets better every time I read it. If anything, it shows what effects right or false preaching can have on a congregation. Over and over it shows how damaging a little bit of false doctrine and poor practice can have on a congregation. I just got past the part in the second story where Pastor Fridfelt decides that it is time to let his superior know that he is a “believer.” Those of you who have read it know which part I’m talking about. “The heart is a rusty old can on a junk heap. A fine birthday gift indeed!” “One does not choose for oneself a Redeemer.”
Had a wonderful celebration of All Saints’ today. Our Communion services tend to last about 1:20, but I suppose that is because I preach longer than I did at my other parish. And, today, I read the names of those faithful departed from the past year. There are few ways to cut down the amount of time it takes to distribute Holy Communion when there is only one ordained pastor. Still, it was a very enjoyable service. We had a great turkey dinner afterwards, put on by some of the members. Now it’s time to hit the hay.