I had/took some time this afternoon to read the magazines that I'd been carting back and forth between home and the office for the past week or so. I sifted through some worship pieces, marking ideas that looked interesting for Pentecost and Ascension and then leaving them in my colleague's mailbox. After all, in the division of duties he got worship -- though I get input. I glanced at the cooking magazine that a parishioner had loaned me, which reminded me that I need (okay, need is a strong word) to buy capers the next time I'm at a store other than Costco. That's really not the place I should buy capers. I read a couple of newsletters and checked them off and passed those along, also.
All in all it was a good afternoon of reading and idea-generating and pile depletion.
But I also discovered that part of the passionate response reflex that I have within me isn't gone/tamed completely. I thought that perhaps I had worked it out or matured or grown up or mellowed or become more something..... calm? I read a story about recruiting folks for the ministry, young folks in particular. And the questions for reflection at the end of the piece sank in my mind, attached to tags like, "condescending," "out of touch," "not accurate," "distasteful." I grabbed my pen and started writing in the margins, deep grooves forming on the other side, visible for pages I later discovered.
The premise of one question, as I understood it, was that "we" (the church? the existing? the....?) recruit young adults/people (which evidently, "we" aren't). Another probed whether or not it was a good idea to focus efforts on young people.
This is one of my hot-button clergy issues. I'm young. I look even younger. I got carded buying wine last month, and the clerk remarked that I look *really* young for my age. No longer am I fresh out of college (I've been to seminary afterall), however, by most clergy standards, I'm young. Regardless, I am part of the church -- and am part of the church leadership. Yes, I still have a lot to learn. Yes, I see the fact that at meetings of other clergy I'm young enough to be their daughter, if not in some cases granddaughter. I see all of this and I understand it, but when I read things that are directed at clergy and the blatant assumption is that the readers (clergy/churchworkers) are of a certain age (I don't know.... 40? 50? 60? older?) I get angry.
And now, hours later, I get angry again and a little bit sad, a little bit incoherent. There's so much wrapped up in this whole concept -- who is young? who is part of the church? who do we expect our leaders to be? who do we want in our pews and in our pulpits? what do we value? how do we express that value? how do we support the whole church and its leaders, regardless of a person's age? where do we focus our care? what are my own biases that I'm missing and that someday I will recognize, if not fully understand?
Perhaps on Tuesday I'll read the article again and realize that it's far more gentle than I've made it in my mind. Perhaps I won't, and my undies will be all in a bundle again. Perhaps at that point I'll formalize my thoughts and actually write a letter to the editor.