Monday, November 19, 2007

pastoral demographics

We're revamping our narthex (fancy church word for lobby) at Redeemer and I had to put in a plug for the youth. Yeah, I know, everyone and their sister is wanting space in the re-design for their ministry and their stuff, so how am I any different? I'll tell you why. I don't see the youth as an isolated ministry like the Freestore or the Bread Ministry. The youth are a demographic.

Having come from a meeting about this very thing, I'm suddenly aware of demographics in the church. Who are we pastoring to? How are we pastoring to them? What do couples who are experiencing infertillity issues need, spiritually and practically? How do we take seriously the needs and concerns of veterans? And this is one that kicked me in the stomach this afternoon: how are we pastoring to fat people?

Please forgive the bluntness, but I just read a mention in my daily blog reading that thousands if not millions of people experience weight discrimination in their doctors' offices. Some of the stories at First, Do No Harm are truly heartbreaking. Women told for years that nothing can be done for their chronic pain, amennhorea, or infertility until they lose 20-50 pounds. Now, let's be honest here, people. It is certainly true that our culture is enamored of sweets and fats and lazing about watching reality television. We are an unhealthy populace to be sure. And I am sure that losing weight can be necessary for some treatments. HOWEVER, the inhumanity with which these brothers and sisters are treated is unacceptable. The jokes, the disdain, the disregard for information patients repeatedly give their doctors--this is a sad state of affairs.

There is a theory that Jesus was fat. In the gospel of Luke, Zacchaeus "was trying to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was short in stature." (NRSV) Who was short in stature? Zacchaeus? Or Jesus? And, lest you think I'm being flip, it's ambiguous in the Greek, too. What if Jesus was short and overweight? If he was God created human, would he really be tall, dark, handsome, and buff? Would he not be more likely to be average, slightly asymmetrical, a little overweight, with a raucus laugh? Or maybe gawkily skinny with big ears and weird mannerisms with this hands?

My point is, we are all created in the image of God--this is one of the first things we know about ourselves. We are in the image of God and we are beloved.

1 comment:

Bonnie said...

As a person of size, I think you can only minster to us as a demographic in order to address that which we share - how we are perceived by others. Beyond that we differ so much that (as with anyone else), you must simply listen and respond individually.
You do that very well - btw.