Thursday, August 8, 2013

Words for the week: all kinds of greed.

I spent last week at a workshop called "writing pastors, working pastors." It was at the Collegeville Institute at St. John's University - a community I highly recommend.  Twelve pastors and three facilitators were there for a week of writing, critiquing, and sharing our love for language. 

I went into the week feeling insecure about my writing which, in turn made me feel competitive.  We each wrote a piece for the workshop which was distributed ahead of time.  I am embarrassed to admit that as I read the essays, I had a bit of a "survivor" attitude.  I sized up the other writers and tried to assess their merits relative to my own.   I didn't want to come away with a book deal.  I just didn't want to be kicked off the island. 

In the mornings we met to discuss questions like: why write? why not write? who are we writing for?  how do we write revealing and embarrassing stories about our family members without them being angry with us? (that last question was easy: don't.) 

In the afternoons, we lovingly critiqued eachother's writing.  I was initially terrified by the word "critique" but over the course of the week, this became my favorite part.  We encouraged one another even as we pointed out how we could each improve.  There was no competition, only graceful nurture and respect.

The facilitators helped us see that each of us has a unique voice.  They ended the week by encouraging us to be generous with each other.  “There’s room for you all” said one, “help each other out.”   I began the week with 12 competitors; I ended the week with 12  cheerleaders.

That experience became the basis of my sermon last week.  The gospel was Luke 12:13-21 where Jesus says "be on guard for all kinds of greed."

There’s more than just financial greed.  In my case, I struggle against the greed for praise. There’s also greed for attention; for job promotion; for the quality of relationships you see others have; for spiritual insight; for another person’s abilities etc etc etc.  And the crazy thing is that greed and its companions – jealousy and insecurity– appear in our lives even when we have plenty.    

That's why the community at Collegeville was such a grace.  Because of the abundance of love, nurture, and encouragement, my greed was replaced with generosity.  

Thanks y'all! - Sarah

AND, the treat of the poem of the week from C.R., Peace Lutheran's resident poem-hound: 

Hyacinths, by James Terry White

If thou of fortune be bereft,
And in thy store there be but left
Two loaves-- sell one, and with the dole
Buy hyacinths to feed thy soul.


  1. Love these thoughts on greed, competition, abundance, and grace. Keep writing!

  2. Jordan Miller-StubbendickAugust 14, 2013 at 12:37 PM

    Hi Sarah! We met last summer at the Chautauqua Institution's New Clergy Program. I really enjoy your blog, especially this post. It is grace, indeed, when greed can be replaced with generosity and competition with cheerleading! Thanks for writing.

    1. Thanks for this Jordan - hope all's well for you and Adam up in NYC. Was that really a year ago!!??

  3. FYI -- Bishop Hanson is still Bishop through October you can't call him "Former" yet! Alice Benson


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