Ever watch a movie on one of the cable channels? Like USA, or TNT, one of those.
They take great pride in being able to air theatrical movies on television screens. They modify it for length and content. Which means they make room for commercials and they sanitize the language inappropriate for younger ears (yet anymore, who knows what that is?)
They also used to modify the film for the aspect ratio of the television you’re watching. Which is to say, they could conceivably crop up to a third of the actual picture so that it would fit on our “square” TV screens. But now, with the growing market for widescreen televisions, it’s en vogue to let the original aspect ratio stand. (Are you geeked up enough yet?)
But there’s a thing that these cable networks do at the end of any film they air.
The credits are compressed from minutes to seconds and the names of those who have contributed to the production are flashed so quickly that any who are a part of the production would be hard pressed to prove it by the names that flash by in an instant. Usually sequestered to a tiny sliver of the available screen, the credits are not what you're drawn to. Rather, it is the advertisement for the next great thing to appear on their air.
It’s actually a bit tacky…to run through the credits so fast.
It’s as if, other than the key players, nobody cares how hard somebody works and brought their gifts to bear to make the story just viewed on the big screen work.Now in the season of the Summer blockbuster, the film to be seen (yes, seen “Star Trek.” Twice and counting) brings production teams of such magnitude that it takes almost ten minutes for each name to roll by and the house lights to come back up.
When I’m at the “picture show,” I usually stay until the end. It’s not like I’m going to know all the people who participated in the making of the film. Rather, it just seems right.
As I think about my last days as pastor of Saint John’s, I’ve wondered how long the credits would run.
What would the names look like?
In my eight years, I’ve encountered many lives, many pilgrims on the way. I’ve thought about the names of those who welcomed me into this parish who are not here anymore. That number is quite large, really.
When I look out onto the sanctuary on a Sunday morning, I recall the places these folks sat knowing that they did so for many years before they knew me.How many prayers of committal have I uttered commending the spirits of beloved sisters and brothers into the Realm of the Church Triumphant?
How many declarations of marriage?I ponder the names of those who have come to be a part of this parish since I became pastor, and I’m amazed by how many of you that is.
How many laps have I taken around the sanctuary with a newly baptized baby in tow celebrating the entrance of one of God’s beloved daughters and sons into the family of faith?
I ponder the laughs, tears, challenging questions, moments of counsel sought, times of distress and crisis endured, endless meetings charting a course for Saint John’s future, moments of celebration and new life experienced, moments of worship when the power of the Holy Spirit was persuasive…
and the list of names grows and grows.
I think of those committed to outreach and ministry and I am inspired. From children to food pantry and soup kitchen, feast for friends, and the legal clinic, to the Church Health Center, this corner has a heart that beats compassion.
And even now as my ministry here draws to a close, comes news that Celeste Wray is back in the prison, doing that work that she does with such passion and integrity and I know I leave a place alive and compelled to serve.
When I consider the times I’ve stood at the Table of our Lord to preside the Eucharist, I am humbled. In those moments, I know the names of those in our lives who have made us who we are number far more than a few moments of acknowledgement could possibly allow.
I’m soon to move into a new venue for ministry…and I take you with me. Your names are etched in me. The stories of our life together cannot go by in a flash. They must be reflected upon and savored.
Something I know I’ll do for the rest of my days knowing that the balance I long seek will be found, in no small part, by the witness to the faith you have made to me.