Thursday, July 25, 2013

Ramblings from the Rector

Every month I'm required to write a piece for our newsletter.  This is not one of the more fun things I do as part of my job, but I do it.  This month's article is about hobbies, and I thought it was sufficiently good enough to post up here:

I was thinking about hobbies recently, mainly because I was expecting my new football packet to arrive in the mail while I was off gallivanting around Montana.

What is a hobby?  Hobby is defined as an activity or interest pursued for pleasure or relaxation and not as a main occupation.  Hobbies are not our jobs, but they can take up as much time as a job.  Hobbies help us keep a balance in our lives between those things we must do (work) and those things that we do for our own gratification.  They can provide a sense of fulfillment that we may not be able to get anywhere else.  They can give us an outlet for energies we are unable to use elsewhere.  They can provide additional friendships among like-minded people.  And hobbies, if we are serious about them, will cost us time and money.

People who carve or quilt spend their money on tools, materials and maybe conventions to pursue their hobby.  Model railroaders, hang-gliders, mountain climbers, knitters, gardeners and almost anything else you can think of as a hobby requires dedication, time and money.  People who are fanatic about turning off lights and keeping the heat down to save money on their power bill will easily spend any amount saved, and then some, on a new toy or tool or class towards a hobby they are passionate about.

I read an article recently about the hobbies of several Episcopal priests, and two of them stood out for me.  The first was a priest from Chicago whose hobby was open water kayaking and pursued it to the point of becoming a nationally accredited instructor.  She has spent a bunch of time and money on kayak lessons, equipment and classes to get to this point.  The other one was a priest from (I think) New York who got involved in boxing.  He also has dedicated time and money to being in the gym and learning to become a competent boxer.

Mrs. Ref got involved in scrapbooking many years ago.  She has spent money on paper, punches, scissors, binders, lettering, stamps and probably more things than I can name as well as her time putting all of her scrapbooks together.  When we were in Montana she connected with a scrapbooking group that met at the school.  They were all taken aback when she first showed up with her big rolling case of scrapbook material – especially when they used laundry baskets.  And now she’s found a new hobby in singing with the Sweet Adelines group in Medford.  This also will require a commitment of time and money.

For my own part, my single hobby is officiating football.  I’ve spent a fair amount of money on shoes, socks, knickers, pants, shorts, shirts, flags, whistles, beanbags, hats and other necessary items over the years.  Some of these things I’ve needed, and some of them I’ve simply wanted.  I’ve also spent money on membership dues, insurance coverage and clinics.  And this hobby of mine has certainly taken its share of my time.  Weekly meetings, weekday afternoon games and Friday night games are the most obvious; but there is also time spent with the rules book in reading, studying, rereading, marking, highlighting, referencing and memorizing.  And with the exception of my time in seminary, my first year in Montana and this year, I think I’ve spent every wedding anniversary on a football field of some sort.

Hobbies, if we are really passionate about them, will take time and money as we pursue them.  We want to improve on our craft simply because we want to get better.  We want to be able to take pride in what we do.  And while our jobs may not always grant us that ability or satisfaction, our hobbies can.  We don’t pursue a hobby in order to be rewarded, but we all appreciate recognition by those involved for a job well done.  If I make a great call on the field you can be sure that at least half the people watching that game will think it was a bad call.  But my peers know it was a great call, and I know it was a great call; and that’s when all of the time, money and dedication I have given to this hobby pays off.

What is your hobby?  What lights your fire, floats your boat or draws out your passion?  What, if you counted up hours and money spent, has cost you more than you want to admit?  And what would you continually and passionately pursue even when faced with a dollar total you can’t quite believe?

What if we behaved as if church were our hobby?  What would it look like if we spent as much time, money and talent on St. Luke’s as we do on our hobbies?  One of the reasons for a hobby is to develop balance in our lives.  St. Luke’s can help to achieve that balance by providing spiritual depth.  Hobbies also provide a place for us to grow.  St. Luke’s, through our worship, education and other activities, can be a place of great growth if we make the effort.  How many people do you tell about your hobby, or how many people have you invited to try your hobby?  This is called evangelism.  Do you talk about St. Luke’s the same way you talk about your hobby?

There is a lot of literature out there about the decline of the church; and there has been some angst here about that very thing as well.  Questions about how to make church relevant again, or how to make church a priority for people abound.  Maybe we’re looking at church the wrong way.  Maybe we need to start thinking about church as a hobby.  Maybe we need to start spending our time, money and talent on St. Luke’s with the same dedication and passion as we spend on our hobbies.

What is your hobby?


Lady Anne | 8:48 AM, July 27, 2013  

I am involved dollhouses in a big way. I create my own worlds, peopled by folks only I know; how can I decorate a house for a stranger? It stays tidy, only needs to be dusted - and de-cobwebbed - maybe four times a year. If I don't like the way a room turned out, it's a lot easier to start all over in a space 12 inches square than a room 12 feet square. Not necessarily cheaper, heaven knows, but easier. I'll balk at spending money on "real" stuff, but never blink and plunking down $50 for a silver teapot that will balance on my fingertip.

Like Mrs. Ref, I have Internet friends all over the place, people I've never met, but when I introduce myself, we are instantly old pals.

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