After watching countless scifi, action, and even military based shows with me, which she generally enjoys, my wife is getting me to branch out a bit a bit and watch a few of the shows she likes to watch. Cold Case is one of these. For those of you who haven’t seen it, it is a crime drama but the twist is that the police officers are trying to solve cases unsolved but long closed. They wrap the case in with a little history. And my wife and I are continually amazed at how often they can find young actors and old actors who look alike (because you have to have one who looks like they did back in the past when the crime happened and then one to play the one living in the present).
The show has me thinking about how much in my training as a pastor and as a chaplain, I had to reckon with my past and question why I think what I do or believe what I believe. Some of it comes from formal education but much of it also comes through both positive and negative life experiences. Both seminary and clinical pastoral education were excellent in challenging some of my ways of looking at the world, people, and myself by default. And some of those beliefs were set deep in my past, cold cases as it were.
I also think about how little the church really does this for their active members. Preachers often try to raise such issues in sermons but when there is no follow-up discussion, the chance of “ah-ha” moments greatly reduces.
At Parkway we have an excellent resource for people in our Stephen Ministry program. Our Stephen Ministers are trained to take the time for folks to walk through issues over time. They listen without judging and keep all conversations confidential. The only minus is that they could be serving three times the number of folks they often do because I don’t think most church goers are used to the idea of talking through their challenges with another member of the church. Yet, those who do are grateful. The Stephen Ministers are specially trained to help. I have yet to find the person who regretted having a Stephen Minister.
And beyond personal challenges, how often do our classes or even social activities challenge us to think through what we as a church, or a family, or even as a society believe and ask us why? This is not to say that our pasts are just full of skeletons, that early held beliefs are wrong by and large, or that our experiences have been largely negative. Quite the contrary. But knowing why we believe what we do is a good and strengthening thing. Reinforcing correctly held beliefs from our childhood can give us a much stronger mooring. Finding wrongly held beliefs and assumptions and correcting them will make life easier. And even working through a negative event or situation that hounds us with a Stephen Minister of the pastor can be freeing. And the church is just the place for us to do this in a non-threatening environment.
God has given us our experiences for a point and a purpose. Let’s share them as we are comfortable doing so. Let us listen to one another. And may God’s Spirit strengthen us for the road ahead as we do this together.
The Cold Case TV show gives the viewer a sense of satisfaction that what was left incomplete is finally done. Could it be that all of us to some degree have incomplete parts of our past that God is waiting to help us wrap up? I think so.
Until next time,