Whew! Residents in Ministry and then Missouri Ministers' School last week just about wiped me out. The RIM meeting was Monday and Tuesday, then Ministers' School was Tuesday through Thursday, back to back. The RIM planners several years ago reasoned that tacking the RIM meeting onto the beginning of Ministers' School would save people a trip. In truth, it just makes the week really, really long and forces many residents to choose one meeting or the other, and since the RIM meeting is requried for ordination, guess which one they choose.
Tidbits from last week:
- We had a breakout session about blogging as a spiritual discipline as a part of the RIM meeting. About twenty of us sat in a circle and talked about blogs, why people have them, how to set them up, and their potential as not only a personal spiritual discipline but also a powerful ministry tool to facilitate communication and evangelism. It was good to be able to speak as the "resident expert," so to speak.
- It is extremely hard, if not impossible, to be present at one meeting while trying to prepare for another. I am the chair of the Board of Managers for Ministers' School, and so I was trying to make sure everything was set and ready for that big event, but at the same time I was trying to be at the RIM meeting. Not recommended.
- Ministers' School went quite well, with no major glitches. We have a fantastic board of managers this year, who all did their jobs very well, thus making my job all that much easier. The faculty this year was Bishop Robert Schnase, Dr. Hal Knight, and Rev. Emanuel Cleaver III. They were focusing on the theme "Stay Focused on Jesus: the Reward is Worth the Effort." The theme and faculty were put together by the dean, who this year was Rev. Dorothy Smith. Around 250 clergy from all over the state attended.
*I will be the dean in 2009 and 2010 - I'm pretty excited for that!
- During Ministers' School this year, I did something I have never done before. From my spot at the piano, I "bumped the preacher" at the end of his sermon! It was great! I had attended worship services where the organist or pianist started playing along with the preacher as the sermon reached its climax, and always wondered if they worked it out ahead of time or just kind of let it happen. Tuesday night, I was listening to Rev. Cleaver (EC3) preach, and thought to myself, "This sermon is pretty good. It is just the kind of sermon that ought to have a little musical umph." And before I knew what was happening, I was doing it. And when I talked with Emanuel afterwards, he said that it was good, so I was happy.
If you haven't experienced it, "bumping" is comprised of extemporaneous, improvised phrases on the keyboard, in time and pattern with the preacher's sermon. These phrases should be in a blues/gospel style, and ideally will accentuate the rhythm of what the preacher is saying, enhancing the experience for the congregation. Most of the time, it happens in a black church, but my very caucasian hands just seemed to take on a life of their own and the back-and-forth between Emanuel and me really felt like the Spirit was moving. It was pretty cool.
- I have started the spiritual discipline of Examen - at the end of every day I pause and look back over the day, asking myself when I experienced the presence of Christ most fully, when I felt furthest away from God, when I was able to love as God loves, when did I fail to do so, and so forth. This discipline is a part of my Residency covenant.
Okay, there's more from last week, but I'll just stop there. Any more at this point would just be boring. Onward ...