Saturday, March 6, 2010

Reflection: Siddhartha and Ministry

There is a new name on the church sign each week: this week two, in fact – one for the morning service and one for the evening. It seems this local mega-church is searching for a pastor and advertises each new candidate on its sign for members and community residents to preview. The names vary from week to week – obviously – but the prefix remains constant: Dr. Never just the first and last names, never Mr., always Dr. At least one of the church’s selection criterion is clear.

For some reason as I passed the sign this evening a selection from Siddhartha, by Hermann Hesse, came unbidden to mind.

Siddhartha went to Kamaswami the merchant, he was directed into a rich house, servants led him between precious carpets into a chamber, where he awaited the master of the house. Kamaswami entered, a swiftly, smoothly moving man with very gray hair,with very intelligent, cautious eyes, with a greedy mouth. Politely, the host and the guest greeted one another.

"I have been told," the merchant began, "that you were a Brahman, a learned man, but that you seek to be in the service of a merchant. Might you have become destitute, Brahman, so that you seek to serve?"

"No," said Siddhartha, "I have not become destitute and have never been destitute. You should know that I'm coming from the Samanas, with whom I have lived for a long time."

"If you're coming from the Samanas, how could you be anything but destitute? Aren't the Samanas entirely without possessions?"

"I am without possessions," said Siddhartha, "if this is what you mean. Surely, I am without possessions. But I am so voluntarily, and therefore I am not destitute."

"But what are you planning to live of, being without possessions?"

"I haven't thought of this yet, sir. For more than three years, I have been without possessions, and have never thought about of what I should live."

"So you've lived of the possessions of others."

"Presumable this is how it is. After all, a merchant also lives of what other people own."

"Well said. But he wouldn't take anything from another person for nothing; he would give his merchandise in return."

"So it seems to be indeed. Everyone takes, everyone gives, such is life."
"But if you don't mind me asking: being without possessions, what would you like to give?"

"Everyone gives what he has. The warrior gives strength, the merchant gives merchandise, the teacher teachings, the farmer rice, the fisher fish."

"Yes indeed. And what is it now what you've got to give? What is it that you've learned, what you're able to do?"

"I can think. I can wait. I can fast."

"That's everything?"

"I believe, that's everything!"

I wonder how the pastoral interview would go at this mega-church if the candidate were like Siddhartha?

“So, Dr. [name], what is it you can give to our church? What is it that you’ve learned, what you’re able to do?”

“I can pray. I can repent. I can fast. I can love.”

“That’s everything?”

“Yes, I believe that’s everything.”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What a great resource!