The Congregation at Duke University Chapel

The Care and Nurture of Pastors


The Care and Nurture of Pastors

some material made available during a presentation at Adult Forum by
The Rev. Dr. Dan Day
May 6, 2012

The Care and Nurture of Pastors

The section

"The parson"

from the "General Prologue" of Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer (c. 1343-1400).

A good man there was of religion,
That was a poore PARSON of a town:
But rich he was of holy thought and werk*.                         *work
He was also a learned man, a clerk,
That Christe's gospel truly woulde preach.
His parishens* devoutly would he teach.                    *parishioners
Benign he was, and wonder diligent,
And in adversity full patient:
And such he was y-proved *often sithes*.                    *oftentimes*
Full loth were him to curse for his tithes,
But rather would he given out of doubt,
Unto his poore parishens about,
Of his off'ring, and eke of his substance.
*He could in little thing have suffisance*.       *he was satisfied with
Wide was his parish, and houses far asunder,                very little*
But he ne left not, for no rain nor thunder,
In sickness and in mischief to visit
The farthest in his parish, *much and lit*,            *great and small*
Upon his feet, and in his hand a staff.
This noble ensample to his sheep he gaf*,                          *gave
That first he wrought, and afterward he taught.
Out of the gospel he the wordes caught,
And this figure he added yet thereto,
That if gold ruste, what should iron do?
For if a priest be foul, on whom we trust,
No wonder is a lewed* man to rust:                            *unlearned
And shame it is, if that a priest take keep,
To see a shitten shepherd and clean sheep:
Well ought a priest ensample for to give,
By his own cleanness, how his sheep should live.
He sette not his benefice to hire,
And left his sheep eucumber'd in the mire,
And ran unto London, unto Saint Paul's,
To seeke him a chantery for souls,
Or with a brotherhood to be withold:*                          *detained
But dwelt at home, and kepte well his fold,
So that the wolf ne made it not miscarry.
He was a shepherd, and no mercenary.
And though he holy were, and virtuous,
He was to sinful men not dispitous*                              *severe
Nor of his speeche dangerous nor dign*                       *disdainful
But in his teaching discreet and benign.
To drawen folk to heaven, with fairness,
By good ensample, was his business:
*But it were* any person obstinate,                     *but if it were*
What so he were of high or low estate,
Him would he snibbe* sharply for the nones**.  *reprove **nonce,occasion
A better priest I trow that nowhere none is.
He waited after no pomp nor reverence,
Nor maked him a *spiced conscience*,             *artificial conscience*
But Christe's lore, and his apostles' twelve,
He taught, and first he follow'd it himselve.

The Church Windows

from The Temple(1633) by George Herbert

Lord, how can man preach thy eternall word?
He is a brittle crazie glasse:
Yet in thy temple thou dost him afford
This glorious and transcendent place,
To be a window, through thy grace.

But when thou dost anneal in glasse thy storie,
Making thy life to shine within
The holy Preachers; then the light and glorie
More rev’rend grows, & more doth win:
Which else shows watrish, bleak, & thin.

Doctrine and life, colours and light, in one
When they combine and mingle, bring
A strong regard and aw: but speech alone
Doth vanish like a flaring thing,
And in the eare, not conscience ring.

Listen, Lord - A Prayer

from God's Trombones: Seven Negro Sermons in Verse(1927) by James Weldon Johnson.

O Lord, we come this morning knee-bowed and body-bent
Before they throne of grace.
O Lord - this morning - bow our hearts beneath our knees,
And our knees in some lonesome valley.
We come this morning - like empty pitchers to a full fountain,
With no merits of our own.
O Lord - open up a window of heaven,
And lean out far over the battlements of glory,
And listen this morning.

And now, O Lord, this man of God, who breaks the bread of life this morning -
Shadow him in the hollow of thy hand.
And keep him out of the gunshot of the devil.
Take him, Lord - this morning - wash him with hyssop inside and out,
Hang him up and drain him dry of sin, pin his ear to the wisdom post,
And make his words sledge hammers of truth - beating on the iron heart of sin.
Lord God, this morning - put his eye to the telescope of eternity.
And let him look upon the paper walls of time.
Lord, turpentine his imagination, put perpetual motion in his arms,
Fill him full of the dynamite of thy power, anoint him all over with the oil of thy salvation,
And set his tongue on fire.

And now, O Lord - When I've drunk my last cup of sorrow -
When I've been called everything but a child of God -
When I've done travelling up the rough side of the mountain -
O - Mary's Baby -
When I start down the steep and slippery steps of Death -
When this old world begins to rock beneath my feet -
Lower me to my dusty grave in peace,
To wait for that great gittin' up morning - Amen.