By Rev. Alan Mead
The past three weeks have been a whirlwind of travel and family commitments. I realize with some surprise that as I begin my 70th decade in a couple of weeks that I don’t have the seemingly inexhaustible stamina that I did a few years ago, and that driving four hundred or so miles a day takes more out of me and time to recover takes longer.
Which makes me think of aging, something that has been on my mind more lately. Sure, as a pastor, I have often looked squarely into my own mortality on a regular basis as I have ministered to individuals and families facing disease, disability, and the inevitable realities of aging and death. And in my ministry I learned long ago that most folks weren’t looking for suave answers; but for one who will stand beside in the presence of deep mystery.
We are a little more settled down for the next few weeks and I will be once again writing more frequently. I have started reading a new book by Loren Mead, “The Parish is the Issue: What I learned and how I learned it,” and will be writing some of my reflections in the next few days and, when I have finished reading it, a full review in our IMN newsletter.
For example, near the beginning of the book, Loren reflects on seeing his first parish, in the deep South. Loren writes, “There was a processional cross and a flag. I felt immediately at home. Oh my God! It was not the flag I expected — the forty-eight-star, thirteen-stripe Old glory I’d found in many churches during World War II. It was a Confederate Stars and Bars flag!”
What did Loren do? And what did he learn from what he did? I would rather you read the book for the answer; but when I read this I was a little astounded because once again that flag has been in the center of news and thought in America and the South, and Loren is in touch with the pulse of faith and culture, change and the church.