Tuesday, June 26, 2007

That priest was faking it!

Fake priest arrested baptising baby (Reuters - Fri Jun 22, 2007)

A man pretending to be a priest was arrested by police as he prepared to baptise a baby in a small town in the north of Portugal.

"When the man said 'in the name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit' police came in and grabbed him," a member of the church was quoted by local daily Jornal de Noticias as saying.

A spokeswoman for the Portuguese police said the 34-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of impersonating a priest and had several similar arrest warrants to his name.

"We had to interrupt the religious ceremony to identify the suspect," said spokeswoman Amelia Moutinho, adding that the public prosecutor would now investigate the case.

The baby was later baptised by a real priest, the local daily said. The man was arrested on June 16.


I'm guessing, or at least hoping, that none of you will ever have an experience like that. On the other hand, I've been around the church for almost 50 years now and have had a few honest conversations with pastors who felt like they were just going through the motions. Call it a dry spell or a spiritual desert or a long, dark night of the soul. Even pulpit greats like Charles Spurgeon stuggled with a sense of heaviness and even depression in ministry.

But Sunday comes whether you're feeling like it or not.

In times like that, I think of the Psalmist David talking to himself (not the only pastor to ever do that) and directing his inner being to "bless the Lord at all times" (Psalm 34:1). That has to include times when I don't feel like it and my circumstances don't encourage it.

In times like that, we do have to walk a line between saying "I just feel like something good is about to happen" and saying "This is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it..." even if I don't feel like it. I praise the Lord because He's worthy of praise.

The dynamics of public ministry can work against just laying it all out there when I'm having a bad Sunday. One of the advantages of liturgical worship is that it's less about my "cheerleading" and more about pointing people to God's gifts in word and sacrament.

Either way... keep it real...especially if you're in Portugal..don't fake it!