An Open Letter to my Clergy Friends

(Laity please read, too). 🙂

Hey, Revs, it’s nearing the end of the 40 days, tipping now toward Holy Week.

If you have a moment, I’m writing to bless you and appreciate you.

I’ll keep this short because although Lent is about renewal and intimacy with the Holy One, your role in the community makes it one of the busiest seasons of the year. In fact, I can hardly believe you’re taking time to read a blog!

You have a unique– better yet, peculiar–place in your community, both set apart and set among. Your role is often to make space for people of God to pray, grow, study, discern, heal, wonder, grieve, celebrate, worship and work. And somehow you tend to your own spiritual life.

Thank you. I don’t know how you do it.

People call you their pastor. You are to them a friend, spiritual guide, teacher, mentor, coffee buddy, prayer partner, icon of holy love. You beautifully weave among the congregation’s requests, needs and expectations to offer real presence. It’s amazing to notice, isn’t it?

Thank you. I celebrate your calling with you today!

Through Lent, many of you have had an additional weekly service and sermon to craft. Whether you’re part of a big-ass fully-staffed church or a solo rural context, it’s not uncommon to see you at over 60 working hours these days. That’s without the funerals and pastoral emergencies that come up. With The Three Days on the horizon, you may be looking at an additional 4-7 services to lead and sermons to write.

Please remember to breathe, eat and sleep. You are a real person with a real life just like the rest of us. I sometimes worry that any or all of us might forget that.

I firmly believe– and I don’t use that word all that often– the ordained life is a particular and rare calling. As certain as I am not built for such a vocation, I honor it when I see it.

Even before I entered seminary I knew my calling is to be Not Ordained. I’m way too high-maintenance. I’m not willing to set aside my callings as family guy and artist. I value my selfishness, my heresies and my solitude. I don’t juggle or spin plates well. (Yes, there’s a list).

Even as each of us is built for a particular walk of life, today I recognize and thank God for you.

You are brilliant in the creative ways you navigate your calling. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

May these final days of Lent open to renewal for your calling and unprecedented joy for your role set apart and set among.

May you release and let go, invite and receive.

May you celebrate your life in light of this peculiar and vital calling that is to me and to many a threshold of Christ’s presence.

Amen.

About Richard Bruxvoort Colligan

Life is full and comes in seasons. View all posts by Richard Bruxvoort Colligan

7 responses to “An Open Letter to my Clergy Friends

  • Sue

    Thank you so much for this today – a day that included a funeral. Yes, I got to give witness to the resurrection and embrace family members that needed it. But: it’s another whole working day lost to all that must be done before April 8! Thanks for understanding that, and reminding me who I am.

  • C Eric Funston

    Thank you – as we look forward to another busy Holy Week, it’s nice to know that our work is appreciated.

  • 7lunabright

    Thank you, so much. When extra-tired, it’s easy to feel underappreciated; your timely post means a great deal to those of us in the trenches!

  • Brian Coleman

    Thank you. Very touching. Nice to be understood. I wish I could live up to the calling more fully.

    Fr. Brian Coleman
    Battle Creek, Michigan

  • Richard

    Completely self-indulgent. What a ridiculous post.

    • Richard Bruxvoort Colligan

      Richard, I suppose any blogging enterprise is a bit self-indulgent. At least I didn’t subject you to my dumb jokes. 🙂 My intention in this particular post was to invite attention to the peculiar vocation of ordained folks. In my experience that calling is often misunderstood and underappreciated. I welcome your weighing in. If you are clergy, I am particularly interested in your thoughts. But feel free to not read anymore of this blog if my perspective bugs you. Thanks.

  • Vicki McGrath

    Richard,

    Thank you for this. It is an honor and a blessing to serve, but you are right – when pastoral crises arise during or just prior to Holy Week one can stretched a little thin, particularly when one’s own family needs to have Easter, too. Knowing that there are folks in our congregations and folks like you out there in the Body of Christ who are upholding us in prayer makes a huge difference.

    The Rev. Vicki McGrath
    All Saints’, Millington, NJ

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