Thursday, December 07, 2006

First Week of Working for the Church

Man, this is a lot of work!

I mean, I wasn't expecting it to be a cake-walk or anything, but still.... Everyone kept telling me it would be a lot of desk-work, so I thought I was prepared. Nuh-uh. I have a to-do list that is, seriously, FIVE PAGES LONG! And it's not stopping. Every day I scratch off two or three things, and put on five or six more. This is nuts.

Today was the first time, honestly, that I've gotten out of the house in this job. (I suppose I did have two meetings with the regional leadership... so perhaps this was my third time out of the house this week.) I went downtown for a protest/rally in support of striking janitors - spent the morning networking with Jobs With Justice and other community organizing/activist groups, and spent mid-day marching and chanting and waving a broom over my head, and spent the afternoon getting home on the bus.

One particularly interesting facet of all this today was that I wore a clerical collar for the protest. (Ministers in my community rarely wear vestments of any kind, particularly a collar.) I did because I want to start communicating publicly that standing up for workers' rights, for economic and social justice, is a faith issue for me. The collar is an immediately recongizable symbol of my acting as a minister. What was interesting was not so much wearing it at the picket line, but before and after. People seemed to just open up in conversation. Whereas usually we'd probably talk about the weather or something neutral, by my wearing my faith "on my sleeve" (or, in this case, around my neck), people seemed much more interested in sharing their faith. And everyone's story is so engaging!

I guess it shouldn't be surprising - but it still is - that in my first week of "ministry," the most spiritually engaging conversations I've had were with people outside of my own faith community, people with whom I was marching and chanting and standing for social justice. It is important that we were together working for some of the lowest-paid, least-thought-of workers in our culture, helping them help themselves. It was almost like church out there. Church on the sidewalk with a broom in my hand.

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