The Guitar Playing Priest…

Apparently that’s how I was described a few days ago and there’s some truth to it. I do make music out on the town a few times a month and its also part of my work with seniors in Assisted Living. On the whole it was something that has always seemed “natural” for me and in my life music has been one of the constants. Yet, the truth is I rarely play the guitar and my “bread and butter” instruments are the bass and the ukulele.

Although I’ve made a little money at it, music is basically a serious hobby for me. When you serve others there’s a need to have things to fill you up for whatever you give away. I do enjoy being with people, and I’ve spent most of my life caring for them, but there are times when an hour or two with music can be remarkably refreshing. Sometimes people can’t imagine the clergy in their lives having, well, a life outside of the church. We do. I like, among other things, westerns on TV, reading history, traveling, and music. As I write this I’m on the couch and wearing a baseball jersey from a local minor league team and athletic pants. I never have slept in my vestments and my house doesn’t smell like incense.

And my life, like many people’s, is quite varied. I’m neither a full-time Priest or a full-time musician. When I’m not helping out as I can at St. George Church here in Minnesota I travel to other parishes around the area filling in when their Priests are ill, on vacation, or need to be away. I’ve served in probably 20 different parishes in a five state area and I’ve had the privilege of serving overseas as well. Two other out-of-state parishes are in my plans for the coming months. In fact, the original name of this blog was actually “The Traveling Priest Chronicles” and if the reader cares to read back far enough they can hear the tales of the various places I’ve been along the way. When I’m not doing that, I work with Seniors in Assisted Living to pay the bills with another kind of ministry, and once in a while someone gives me some money for my music. Sometimes when there are gaps in this blog it’s because I’m out and about somewhere doing something and time just slips away.

I actually don’t mind the travel. It’s good to see new things and be with new people. I hope some day to be able to serve a parish as a Priest in Residence but things haven’t worked out that way quite yet and so I do what I can and try to help people where the opportunity rises. Until a more settled time presents itself I consider myself a kind of missionary, a Priest out and about, mixing and mingling with people in a variety of places and hoping to share some grace wherever I go. That I happen to be a sometimes gigging musician is just a plus because it gets me in to places where my collar may not.

Overall, that may be the point. Whatever our situations we can be the presence of Christ where we are, being who God wants us to be wherever our talents or travels take us. Wherever I am is where my ministry is, and that truth applies to every Christian. Precious time is sometimes wasted by people seeking out some kind of “call” when, in fact, the very place they live, work, make music, or do whatever they do is, in fact, their call, their mission, and, as it were, their parish.

One day, perhaps, I’ll get that letter from the Bishop and there will be a single place for me. Until then wherever I am is where God has something for me to do and I plan on doing it until I’m told otherwise.



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