August 31, 2005

Being Happy

My church has no power point projection system. We have no choir to sing anthems on Sunday morning. We do have one paid musician, who tries her best, but only gets about half the notes right.

We do not have a paved parking lot. We don't have a steeple, although many years ago there was one. Our church office has no fax machine, and the office computer isn't connected to the internet; only my home computer is. We have no gym, and when we have church dinners, we must first move the nursery toys and remove the portable dividing wall that encloses the nursery so that we have enough room for everyone.

Every once in awhile someone doing a survey will call on the phone. "What is your position?" they ask. "Senior pastor, associate, youth pastor, pastor of visitation?

"Yes," I answer.

My church does have a microphone, although sometimes I don't use it. A number of years ago, there was even a wireless clip-on mic, although the then-pastor accidentally dropped it into the baptistry, and that was the end of that.

So basically, there's not much to our little country church. And maybe that's why I like it so much. Once, a number of years ago, I did some thinking. I tried to think of when it was that I was most happy, and I realized that it was the summers I spent counseling camp ... church camp, scout camp ... and I also realized that those times when I was happiest were also those times when I had the fewest stuff, the fewest possessions. Just a suitcase, backpack, or duffel bag full of belongings.

How can that be? I wondered. I'm not sure. Maybe because having less stuff allows me to focus on what's truly important and meaningful. Maybe because in those times I was free from the pressure to work to accumulate more stuff.

We have a new van. It's the first new car I've ever bought. And it's wonderful. But still, a part of me feels uneasy with it. And a part of me felt really uneasy when my wife parked it prominently in front of church on Sunday so everyone could see it. Everyone in church knows that we've struggled with our cars in the past, and that we plan on using the van and all its 8 seats to take youth on outings. So I shouldn't feel uneasy ... should I?

I guess the bottom line is, I'm happy to have the van, but I'm also happy to know what it is that really makes me happy. And our new vehicle, as wonderful as it is, isn't it.


jo(e) said...

I wish I went to a church like yours.

(Still praying for Chris ... let us know what happens ....)

peripateticpolarbear said...

Ah, pastor's guilt. Enjoy the van. I figure when you pare down to bare essentials, you're allowed to really, really enjoy the items you do purchase. And really, if you bought a new van every year, would it be worth mentioning? It's not a sin to have things. It's a sin to let things have you.