the three gnomes.

29 Jul
It’s a tale much like that of the deathly hallows – of an elder wand, a resurrection stone, and a cloak of invisibility.*  But this tale is one of three gnomes with three lessons for ministry.  These three gnomes magically appeared in the pulpit at my ordination, traveling long distances with Pastor Kendall as their guide.
Gnomes are certainly wise creatures despite the bad reputation they seem to gain.  [Something about stealing socks and pulling pranks from within the weeds.]  These gnomes are theologically wise, having much knowledge of ministry and how to be a non-anxious presence in pastoral care and other situations.  As they shared their perfect three tips at my ordination, so they wish to share with you.

The first gnome, on the left, with his finger to his lips, reminds us that to listen is golden.  In ministry – as in all important conversations and in every relationship – it is important to listen.  Listening, often more than talking, is why we have two ears and only one mouth; use them proportionately.  
The middle gnome, with his hands and arms in a gentle shrug, reminds us that no one has the answers.  Not I, not you.  Sometimes – likely more often than we do – it’s okay to say, “I don’t know.”  I don’t know why bad things happen.  I don’t know why there is so much pain in the world.  I don’t know where your other black sock went.  shrug.  I don’t know.  And that’s okay.  It’s honest and it’s true and sometimes it’s the best answer to say that you don’t have the answer.  
The gnome on the right, with hands in a prayerful grasp, seek to show us to pray first and speak after.  If you pray before speaking, the prayer is one of guidance and asking for God’s presence within a conversation.  But, if you pray after speaking, the prayer is one of seeking forgiveness and questions of “why did I just say that?!”  Pray first, speak later.  Pray first.
There we have it.  The three gnomes and the tales of wisdom they came to East Koshkonong to share.  Thanks to the three wise gnomes for their tips for ministry and the ways in which they share the life lessons they have learned.  And thanks to Pastor Kendall for bringing them to me and to live forever in my church office.  [Which they totally will.  They will live on a shelf, occasionally on my desk, and be a conversation piece for all who visit.  Major, major creativity points to KLS.  Awesome sermon to bring home the ordination.  Awesome.]

* Harry Potter reference.  Catch up, folks!

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