The Berry Street Lecturer this year spoke movingly about an aspect of ministry that has to do with keeping certain boundaries. He said that he exercised at a gym far from his New England Town Center (where his steeple is likely the biggest around and everybody knows him as Rev. Ken.) Exercising far away means he doesn't have to talk to anybody, be nice, or attend to anything except his exercising, and should anyone say to him, "Are you THE Rev. Ken?" he can say, "No, I'm the other one."
(This annual lectureship is the oldest continuing lectureship in the US; it was started by William Ellery Channing as a continuing education experience for the ministers of New England. It's now the last event of Minister's Day at GA, and a pretty big deal )
I had urged my lay delegates to crash this event, if they could. I told them that it was because the lecture is so very good, and they had some interesting comments about how the necessities of ministerial role somehow necessitate something on their part. They were not quite able to articulate it, but I was touched by how touched they were by this lecture, which was really, really good. I mostly wanted them to be there to share with me the thrill of what happened at the end, which was, the always dramatic announcement of next year's speaker, who will be, in 08 me, myself.
I was asked to do this some months back, and of course, I said yes. (This is not the sort of thing one says "no", to.) I was asked to keep it a secret, which I did do, and now the secret's out. But all evening, as people said, "They asked YOU to do the Berry Street," I was tempted to say, "No, they asked the other one."
Today this feels like a most intimidating honor and I can't imagine what the committee was thinking. In situations like that, it is good to be surrounded by friends.