OK - - the title of the post is taken directly from the into Tom Waits gives to his song "Chocolate Jesus" when he performed it on Letterman a few years ago.
I have now come across this idea in several different places in the last few days, so it is on my mind. First the song itself was referenced in a book I read for our church book group, Radical Hospitality. Second the church where my kids go to daycare is selling chocolate crucifixes for Easter. Really. This is the first time I have seen anything like this and I am seriously wondering if it's sinful to buy some to give as jokes. The thought of sticking a chocolate Jesus on the cross in my kids' Easter baskets somehow just seems completely wrong.
I get the idea and the intent. Let's get Easter back from all those secular bunny and egg people. Yada yada yada. But chocolate Jesus on a cross? Does that really do this?
Anyway, I digress....
So the third place I saw this idea was in a post at Presbyterian Bloggers about church PR. I thought the post raised some interesting thoughts on the intended subject, but the phrase that stuck out to me stuck out for these other reasons - "I want faith that I have to chew on; not faith that melts in my mouth."
I'm being challenged by this book and by my agreement with the blogged thought above. I have said that, or at least something to that effect, multiple times in my life. I say I don't want it all handed to me on a platter, but at the same time I can't remember the last time I chewed very hard.
I'm finding it very easy, unfortunately, to slip into routines at the church, or sometimes the routine doesn't even come easy enough, so my routine is catching up because I didn't slip into it so well. I don't find myself being challenged the ways I think I should because I don't find myself in the relationships and in the nitty gritty details of life and faith with people of the church.
Reading the hospitality book gave me some insight into what I think part of my problem is. I'm not so sure I am open to people as fully as I need to be to make this happen. I talk of drop-in visits at the church as "interuptions," and I think I need to see them as opportunities for ministry. I am getting better at checking things off the to-do list and taking care of "business," but I haven't focused much on getting better at being with people, being available for them, seeking them out when I know there are concerns in their lives.
To give myself a little bit of credit, I have just been getting better at some of these administrative tasks in order that my time can be used in pastoral relationships. That's been my Lenten discipline - to get better at organizing my time so that I can give in to ALL of God's call on my life (pastor, wife, and mother). I guess I just wish there were more immediate results. Also, once I get good at efficiently and carefully moving through "tasks" how to I get better at something that isn't one of my strengths - - reaching out to others first.
Hopefully I can begin praying on that one now, so it becomes clearer to me as I go forward. I'm both nervous and excited about the direction my ministry will take when this is the case. I want to chew on the stuff of faith with people who are asking questions, struggling, and growing. I want to ask the questions, struggle, and grow, too! This is part of hospitality the book says, preparing the table. For me to sit down with folks, I've got to clear some space so there's a place to set!