Sometimes I don’t know Jack

Really, sometimes I don’t know jack, or just feel like I don’t know Jack. When I feel like this,  I re-read something by Jack – Jack Mendelsohn.  This passage is from Jack Mendelsohn’s book Why I am a Unitarian Universalist.  I underlined it in my copy the first time I read it.  I had it read at my installation. About a month and a half ago, a friend emailed it to me to lift my spirits not knowing, or perhaps indeed knowing it was and is my constant meditation on why I do what I do.  I do know Jack, at least a little bit anyway. He was kind enough to have to me to his house one day while I was an intern minister in Massachusetts.  Still, I don’t know Jack, like I don’t know jack.  That’s the point, I guess.  The ministry isn’t about what you know, it’s about showing up, being present, and giving it your best shot in a world that is full of holiness while many people and things try to convince you otherwise.

Who is a Unitarian Universalist minister?

A person who is never completely satisfied or satisfiable, never completely adjusted or adjustable, who walks in two worlds—one of things as they are, the other of things as they ought to be—and loves them both.

A UU minister is a person with a pincushion soul and an elastic heart, who sits with the happy and the sad in a chaotic pattern of laugh, cry, laugh, cry—and who knows deep down that the first time the laughter is false, or the tears are make-believe, his or her days as a real minister are over.

UU ministers have dreams they can never wholly share, partly because they have some doubts about those dreams themselves and partly because they are unable adequately to explain, describe, or define what it is they think they see and understand.

A UU minister continually runs out of time, out of wisdom, out of ability, out of courage, and out of money.  A UU minister is hurtable, with great responsibility and little power, who must learn to accept people where they are and go on from there.  UU ministers who are worth their salt know all this, and are still thankful every day for the privilege of being what they are.

The future of the liberal church is almost totally dependent on two factors: great congregations (whether large or small) and skilled, effective, dedicated ministers.  The strangest feature of their
relationship is that they create one another.

-Jack Mendelsohn

3 thoughts on “Sometimes I don’t know Jack

  1. Rev Tony, you more than qualify. I know you run in many directions and your sermons are so awesome, And we are all blessed to be at Pathways.

  2. Thanks for this, Tony – I was looking for this reading from Jack, googled “great congregations make great ministers,” and that led to your blog! I’ll be using it as a reading at services tomorrow.

    Blessings, Sue

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