In Uncategorized on November 8, 2004 at 6:27 pm

opening a vein

i decided not to preach last weekend. the first sunday of every month you can find me at hill memorial baptist in allston, massachusetts. at hill memorial i preach a twenty-five minute sermon, preside over communion, drink a couple cups of colon-cleansing coffee, listen empathetically to a couple of stories and collect a $100 check (which is subsequently applied to my comcast bill). the congregation is filled with lonely middle aged and elderly women who seem to enjoy my company and have found a way to endure my idiosyncratic preaching. as far as supply preaching goes, hill memorial is easy pickin’.

i usually look forward to my two hours at hill memorial, but last week, i avoided its approach like the plague. after failing to frame a sermon out of wood that was long since hewn, i put out an anxious s.o.s. to the other prospective preachers at cbd. i carefully sculpted my e-mail to make the preaching slot sound like a wonderful opportunity. but, as one of my friends realized after lightly scratching my surface, i was absolutely desperate for relief.

being vulnerable in the pulpit is unquestionably valuable. but, as my old prof would be quick to remind me, bleeding all over the pulpit is another thing entirely. sunday would have been an exercise in the latter. right now, my heart is a cracked desert, my mind looks and sounds like a snowy television screen and my eyes are threatening to reach flood stage.

why am i telling you all this? i am asking myself the same question. i guess the most basic reason is to remind us both that even depression is a sacrament that we need to receive. as saint john of the cross, henri nouwen and others would remind us, depression is not a detour from the spiritual life, but a road that we must all endure. so, by God’s grace, i pray that we begin to view depression not as an opportunity to retreat into the fetal position, but as an opportunity to deepen our faith. furthermore, i hope that the cliche that “the darkest hour is always before dawn” is indeed true. finally, instead of falling into the self-destruction of sin during these times or relying on our silly, external crutches (such as my cigarettes), i hope that these dark times lead us into a deeper dependence upon our Savior, who in the midst of the greatest depression found the strength to submit to God’s will and a more tangible interdependence upon one another. friends, this is a road that we all walk. but there is no reason to walk it alone.


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