How Charlie Brown Saved My Ministry… Twice

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On my desk the place I do most of my work there stands a Charlie Brown bobblehead figurine. I take that little caricature determine very severely as a result of he stored me in ministry on two very completely different events by which I used to be able to give up. Right here’s why.

The primary time was very early in my ministry, when I discovered myself in a deep melancholy after seeing issues in regards to the underbelly of church life that I wanted I had by no means seen: hypocrisy, backbiting, cover-up, and Darwinian energy politics. I did not even go to church one night time, figuring out that the congregation I used to be part of on the time was scheduled to erupt in some bitter battle. I sat dwelling questioning whether or not, primarily based on what I now knew about human depravity (together with my very own), I ever even needed to go to church once more, a lot much less to serve in church ministry. I turned on the tv for some background noise to quiet my thoughts, simply because the opening credit began taking part in for A Charlie Brown Christmas.

I had seen this program so many instances as a toddler that I might in all probability stage each scene by reminiscence from that sickly little tree to the children dancing to the wonderful jazz soundtrack to waiting for Pigpen’s cloud of mud within the background. I used to be anticipating the same old “lesson” from the present—as from each kids’s present—in regards to the “true meaning of Christmas” being about greater than commercialism, sandwiched between, after all, commercials. However then there was Linus.

The cartoon determine of Linus appeared on the stage, dressed as a shepherd, full with blanket headdress. He recited Luke 2, on the announcement of the start of Jesus to sheepherders in Galilee. I had heard this numerous instances, extra accustomed to those phrases than Schroeder was to Beethoven.

However at that second, there was one thing about listening to the phrases, within the King James Model, as previous and acquainted to me as my very own safety blanket: “And the glory of the Lord shone round about them, and they were sore afraid.” It hit me that this was my downside: I used to be sore afraid. It hit me additionally that what I used to be listening to was the glory of the Lord. Despite the fact that the phrases I used to be listening to have been mediated in the meanwhile by means of, of all issues, a cartoon little one, they nonetheless had their pressure. The story was greater than only a story. The story was true.

I actually consider that God used that second to raise me out of my worry and nervousness and despair, and to choose myself as much as preach once more the tidings of nice pleasure.

Greater than twenty years later, I confronted one other terrible season. I had seen even worse sin and hypocrisy and energy politics than I had ever imagined as a twenty-year-old. I used to be able to do one thing else with my life. Greater than that, I used to be indignant and unhappy, in ways in which reached deeper than such issues ever had earlier than. Although all I needed to do was to cover beneath the covers someplace, perhaps for years, I had a job to do. I needed to do a filming with my pal Randall Goodgame about, of all issues, silliness in educating kids to memorize Scripture. On the way in which to the set, I listened, for in regards to the millionth time, to my favourite tune by Randall, his homage to the Peanuts. What struck me was a line about Schroeder on that piano: “He played like Harry Truman, without those Coke bottle glasses that only Marcie wore; like Harry Truman, without the atom bomb, without the burden of a third world war.”

It struck me that I did certainly really feel like a war-weary Harry Truman, cradling my very own private nuclear soccer, questioning whether or not Lucy would yank it away from me simply in time. The imagery is ideal. The enjoyment of Schroeder was that he performed the piano, as Truman did, however he performed it not with the faux, display-exuberance of an previous man laden with choices. He performed as a toddler, for the sake of the music itself, and thus with pleasure.

In that second, I spotted that I used to be approaching the ugliness I used to be watching the way in which a wartime President would, defending my vulnerabilities with my weaponry. I might smile and play on command, however none of that will be actual. My path to pleasure, it appeared to me, was to embrace the childlikeness of religion, to disregard the carping on the opposite facet of the metaphorical piano, and to re-enter the enjoyment of my calling, as one who has nothing to show and nothing to lose.

On the filming, Randall requested three of us—an Anglican priest, a Presbyterian pastor, and me, to speak about kids and the Bible whereas sitting in a kids’s Sunday classroom, constructing Lego units and mashing collectively Play-Doh as we talked. At one level, he requested us to speak whereas swinging on the swing-set exterior. At first, I believed this was too foolish for me to do. After which I remembered that tune, and my want to return earlier than God not as a public mental however as a dependent little one. I don’t assume I’ve ever had extra enjoyable coloring dinosaurs with crayons than whereas speaking in regards to the authority of the Bible.

I left that place laughing, but in addition with a brand new resolve to recommit to my calling, to battle non secular warfare not with the duty of a slave however with the liberty of a kid, with the safety of an inheritor (Rom. eight:16-17). I might be Schroeder on the piano, not Truman within the warfare room. And I haven’t, up to now, seemed again.

The Charlie Brown figurine is there to remind me that essentially the most liberating truths I’ve heard did not come to me from august heroes of the religion however from sudden, childlike locations, identical to the place I heard them within the first place. And it jogs my memory that what it takes to jostle me into questioning at nice pleasure can generally be some good grief.

You’re a great man, Charlie Brown.

This text initially appeared at Used with permission.

Publication date: January 2, 2018


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Natalia Camp


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