Friday, April 30, 2010

Presbyterian Boot Camp?

Around the turn of the milennium, the Presbyterian Church (USA) did a study to see how frequently their pastors and church members read the Bible. As one would expect, the answer was: not often. So they created this thing called "Company of New Pastors," where Presbyterian ordination-track students in their final year of seminary commit to doing some daily devotions and scripture reading, and meet once a month for worship, fellowship, etc. Well, a professor suggested to me I might do that, and I thought it sounded like a good idea.

We had our first meeting today. They passed out these prayerbooks with prayers for morning, midday, and evening services, and a special 2-year lectionary plan, with four scripture readings and a selection from the Presbyterian Book of Confessions for each day--and I was sitting there, thinking, "I'm not going to do this. Do they really expect us to do this? This is simply not going to happen." I thought this especially when it was made clear that we are expected to continue these daily devotional practices for the remainder of our careers.

I've tried to be spiritually disciplined in the past. It's always turned out badly. So eventually, I decided to lower my expectations, and set myself a reasonable, attainable goal (read some scripture, and pray for a bit, every weekday at lunch time). I was thinking "daily devotion and scripture readings" meant something like, working through a curriculum that would include one scripture passage and some kind of supplementary material for each day. But three times a day, reading through a substantial liturgy and multiple readings--my gosh! That really sounds burdensome--and unnecessarily so.

The more I think about this, the more I think it is completely unrealisitic. I feel like I unwittingly signed up for a monastic vow. And monastic vows were designed for unmarried persons. I suppose if I were single, living alone, then I could do this sort of thing.

But I would hate to back out now--I suppose I can find some way to make this work for me. It will be a challenge, that's for sure. And I guess that's a good thing. Though I'm not yet convinced, even of that.

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