“Man of God; Man of the People”

  •  After my Finals, some of us congregated in a posh St Andrews cocktail lounge. An American lady – on vacation – was waiting at the bar with a dear friend and I. She said something along the lines of “What are you guys celebrating?” And I told her that we’d finished our divinity exams. My friend, trying to justify his slight intoxication (!) continued the conversation by saying, “To be a man of God, you’ve got to be a man of the people”

    And that’s kind of stuck with me after 40 years of ordained ministry

  •  George MacLeod wrote:
“The cross must be raised again at the center of the marketplace as well as on the steeple of the church. I am claiming that Jesus was not crucified in a cathedral between two candles, but on a cross between two thieves; on the town garbage heap, at a crossroads so cosmopolitan they had to write His title in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek. At the kind of place where cynics talk smut, and thieves curse, and soldiers gamble, because that is where He died and that is what he died about and that is where churchmen ought to be and what churchmen should be about.”
 
  • so many of us cling to the traditional belief that we – in the pulpit – are “six feet above contradiction”; that spiritual leadership becomes spiritual dictatorship, because “we know best”. As mentioned, I was ordained in 1974 and thought that I knew it all – it was only when mixing with congregational members and parishioners that I realised that I wasn’t really addressing their hopes, fears and aspirations. I went to the places they frequented, including pubs and bars and clubs, and was eventually accepted as not so much “The Minister’s here – watch your language” but as part of the fellowship of general humanity. Yes, there was still respect for my role, but the mythology built around the “set apart” person was diminished.
 

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