Sometimes I am amazed that I am still an Authorized United Church of Christ Pastor. I am amazed because there are many hoops that a UCC Pastor has to navigate: Education, Continuing Education, Accountability and Scrutiny. I am not much of a navigator.
As I posted in the first blog deal, I have no desire to be a, "Yes Man." I certainly don't have time for un-useful criticism. I am all about critique and helpful insight but as for putting up with people who just wanna NAG, well, I am not into that. So why on earth would I consider being a local church pastor?
The answer is simple. Because at the end and the beginning of each day I am an ordained minister to the people of God who use the name Christian. I am equipped and called to administer Pastoral Care. And I do care. I love Christians. In all the mess involved with the Christian church (all the believers and all the denominations who follow Christ), -and it is a mess- in all of that I am in love with the church, and Christ, and the ideal of Christianity. (the ideal is -loving one another as Christ loved the church)
It hurts me just a tad to look at the UCC of whom I am an Authorized minister and see that there are many congregations of Christians looking for a pastor. They have been looking. Some are genuinely searching for someone to journey with them. I think that I should at least put myself out there and consider that maybe one of these congregations is looking for someone like me?
In the back of my mind all I want to do is travel around the country and assist with establishing Veteran Fellowships at churches, all the while playing Rock and Roll. I love playing music. I love traveling around.
Many of y'all have said that what I did this summer was of phenomenal help. You have encouraged me and told me good things about what I am doing. So what am I doing? There are five things that I am currently working on doing in addition to going to school for graphic design and searching for a local church to serve in and from. They are:
1) Music : I love being a Singer / Songwriter. If I had the money I would travel the country and sing for every single person who would pause to listen. Music heals, helps, empowers and encourages.
2) www.mymilitarystory.com : a video and vocal podcast that is set up much like the actors studio in which Veterans have an place to tell their story. The stories would be showcased in a way that is short and palatable to all ages and all ears, and a longer more in-depth version will be available on a podcast to be devoured by a more mature audience who has the capacity to understand war. I don't know how many times I have heard, "I don't know what my dad did." This would allow Veterans a safe space to tell their story. And if more people knew the horrors of war then maybe we would be slower to engage in future wars.
3) Vet Church : I have started a group on the Face Book called Vet Church. Folks can join by request, invite someone. (PM for more details if this is scratching where you itch.) I started this because in the world of PTSD most of us don't want to get real social. Well, our PTSD in many cases is one of the prices of American Freedom. So, I believe that the Church has some real answers and God is real and why not do something beyond my own shadow. I started the virtual church to be part of the visible church, this is not a substitute. The fact is many vets cannot go to a brick and mortar building and sit with a bunch of Sunday Best Cleaned Up Clothes. That is fine, we will get together on the Face Book.
4) Veterans Fellowship : creating an organization that meets in the basements and fellowship halls of churches all across America much like Alcoholics Anonymous does right now. These groups would be led by local community veterans who understand the need for a safe place and personal growth. I mean why not? Churches have buildings with space and lights and water, the AC is on in the summer and the Heat is on in the winter. Shouldn't Churches be safe places for veterans to go?
5) Pastoral Care : As I have been traveling and talking and working with folks, I realize that I am providing Pastoral Care. It is awesome. The stories that come back to me are incredible. Helping Vets help other Vets has been a huge part of the Pastoral Care that I am providing and I fully intend to keep this up until the day I die.
I know full well that the songs I am writing and singing are gifts. I wake up and they are there. I think in part because of the thousands of stories that I have heard. I think in part because my Tribe (VETERANS) has encouraged me to write and sing.
I know that the Pastoral Care I am providing is genuine. I have never tried to convince anyone about right or wrong. I don't argue about God. I don't ask for money to "Save Souls." I figure that if God is real then God can defend Gods-self, so, I never argue about God. I can't explain God. I cannot define God and I cannot prove God.
So, The BOX:
One of the guys I went to Afghanistan wrote me and told me Chaplain, "I don't think that four-walls is gonna work for you." A guy in my PTSD group said, "Ya know Matt, those four walls have a roof and a floor. It's a box." Another Vet said, "Just playing the Devils advocate here, but once you understand the boundaries of the box, you will be free to work both inside and outside of the box."
As y'all can see, I have a lot going on. I have a lot of vision and dreams and ideas. I'm not much of a business plan guy- I have friends who are. I don't have it all written out in that format. But I think y'all can see that all of these things are beyond just me. I need more than just vocal input. I am looking for a community to join me in these ventures. Think of what we can do as we do it together.
Thanks for caring,