Ministry, Mothering

Sometimes There are No Words

At Big Red Dog Elementary School, the students in The Princess’ class received a serious talk about not bringing weapons to school. The story is going around that one of the boys in her class brought a gun to school and was expelled. He was not at school today. Someone saw something, at least someone said so. At least one someone said The Princess turned him in, but since she didn’t know anything about it before the teacher’s talk, that wouldn’t be possible. She still isn’t sure what really happened.

I know my breath left my body when I heard the news, even though it may just be stories, for it was followed by this from my daughter: “I wouldn’t be surprised if he did. He’s not very smart. I should know, since I sit next to him.” I had to hold onto the kitchen counter. I could not speak.

It wasn’t the first time today I had trouble finding words.

At Hippy Dippy High School, #2 Son and his classmates are looking for opportunities to job shadow next month. I asked him what he thought the teachers would do if someone wanted to shadow a pastor? “I don’t really want to be a minister,” he said. I didn’t mean you, I said. “I don’t think many kids this age are thinking about being ministers. All my friends are atheists. They think the world is depressing and there is no God.”


At Small Church, a fundraising call came in from the national church, not for Missions or Hurricane Relief, or even for supporting the national setting’s budget, but for a TV ad that most networks are refusing to air anyway. Meanwhile I just passed along a letter to our Ministry of Outreach asking us to give more to keep the national setting going, and we are sincerely trying to do so. I explained my concerns about the multiple demands, and shared my concern that the ad was ill-chosen. Finally, Mr. Fundraiser said, “A share in the ad campaign is just $500. If you get even one new member, you could make this back double in the first year!”

What are we talking about here? It sounds like a proposal for replacement windows, not a sincere desire to bring the news of God’s embracing love to those who feel rejected by church and church people. Evangelism is not an investment scheme. I wish I had been able to say this to him, but shock prevailed.

A hard day it was, in many ways. But it had moments of holy conversation, moments when no further words were needed because the speakers understood one another perfectly. Earlier today I called to arrange a visit with Little Button Lady, a charming person who is limited by nerve pain and disabling vertigo. She rarely attends church because her day starts slowly. She lives in a darling apartment with a sweet little balcony, where we have talked and prayed together many times. Each time I visit she shows me her latest arts and crafts projects; The Princess and I envy her button collection!! I told her about the crocuses growing in front of the church, such a strange sight with snow on the ground, and she told me she could see over her railing to the little crocuses in the garden beneath, also smiling through the snow.

Then she said of this funny Spring, “I can’t wait to get planting!”

In the midst of fear and doubt and ignorance and pain, there is still hope for the Resurrection. There is absolutely hope.

16 thoughts on “Sometimes There are No Words”

  1. Being a parent is beautiful and terrifying. I would guess that pastoring can be the same. Thank you, as always, for sharing your day.

  2. Very scary about the boy with the weapon.
    As for your son’s friends, I think this is a stage. Apple last year proclaimed she was an athiest. Then last week she said she believes in reincarnation. Sometimes finding your own path means rejecting other’s paths just on principle. It’s part of rebellion I think.

  3. Finally, Mr. Fundraiser said, “A share in the ad campaign is just $500. If you get even one new member, you could make this back double in the first year!”
    Grr I hate this! Sorry! I won’t rant here, cos you don’t like it either.
    But most importantly ((((Songbird)))) the situation for youth and belief in Christ and the guns in schools. It’s horrible. All of it. Both equally scary and IMHO connected! (sigh) We need the Gospel more than ever before.

  4. Just let me get hold of Mr Fundraiser!!!Makes you wonder whose buisness we are about doesn’t it!!
    As for the two school experiences wow…not sure how to handle the gun thing, but as for the teenagers and finding their own paths, Gavin Reed Bishop of Maidstone once said that we must let young people speak out their unbelief, that way there will be room for new and real faith to be planted, take root and grow!
    My son Jon did shadow a pastor (not me!!!) for his work experience, he even assisted at a funeral, I was amazed at the insights he gained!

  5. I’m the youth “leader” (I am not a pastor, and since I don’t get paid, I’m not going to call myself “director.”). I’ve dealt with individuals who are uncomfortable with the youth program – because a number of our kids are from “disadvantaged” families and so, if they join the church, they won’t be bringing any money in.
    it makes me want to scream. I don’t have a good response, other than standing there, looking puzzled.
    I have recently made the program “self supporting” – we have various fundraisers (mainly doing yardwork for people in return for donations) so it’s not like we’re taking from the budget. And I pay for a lot of stuff out of my own pockets.
    but still, from one or two adults, there’s the subtle “but it doesn’t PAY” attitude.
    isn’t possibly protecting kids a little from bad influences out there, isn’t maybe contributing a little to their self-esteem, isn’t letting them know there’s another adult out there – other than family, other than teachers – who values them and will listen to them worth anything?
    I know we’re struggling financially (we’re small) but so often things in meetings come down to money, money, money – I almost get the sense that if some of the kids’ parents came to church, they’d not be totally welcomed, because they can’t contribute a lot financially.
    fortunately this is just 1 or 2 people out of the church. I wouldn’t go somewhere else over it, or quit the youth program, because I feel like what good I am doing outweighs the frustration I personally have to deal with – and it would hurt the youth if I left because of my own hurt feelings over the bad attitudes of a few adults.

  6. Oh, ricki, I’m so sorry to hear that even one or two people feel that way, and yet I’m not surprised. I think that’s the reason most youth programs are asked to be “self-supporting.” Blessings to you and to your faithful ministry.

  7. This world is much scarier than when we were that age. So sad that our children are dealing with some things that we still have not dealt with.

  8. (((((Songbird)))))
    Sounds like you had a challenging day. Being a parent of a teen is so frightening these days – I know in our part of the world, the fear of gang violence – mostly MS-13 – is very real. Teen drug and alcohol abuse is equally real, especially in this neighborhood where we have a bunch of parents who work ungodly long hours, have a lot of money, but not much sense when it comes to what their own teens are doing. The number of times StrongOpinions has come home and told me “I had to be a designated driver” is very disturbing, given that she won’t even be 18 for another month.
    She, BTW, is currently claiming to be an agnostic, and is very unhappy with mainline churches for not speaking truth to power more forcefully. Some days I agree with her. We’ll see what four years in a Buddhist university will do for her…

  9. Don’t be so hard on Mr. Fundraiser. You could pastor my church. At the last board meeting I suggested we have a dinner to raise money for the building fund of a neighboring (another denomination) church.
    This was the response, an exact quote: “Well, I think that any money raised here ought to be spent on us.”

  10. I was holding my breath reading this whole thing. Your storytelling is a powerful gift – thank you for telling truth about the bad stuff, and the good.

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