Some of My Favorite Things

Should a priest have a favorite Bible passage? Should a policeman have a favorite type of crime? These are some questions I ask in my latest “In Good Faith” column for the Hingham Journal.

Some of My Favorite Things

By the Rev. Tim Schenck

People sometimes ask me, “What’s your favorite Bible passage?” I guess it comes with the vocational territory. Like someone asking a veterinarian about her favorite breed of dog or a clerk about his favorite type of file folder. Though I do wonder if anyone ever asks a police officer, “What’s your favorite type of crime?” or a water treatment plant worker about his favorite kind of sewage.

My favorite passage from the Bible depends upon a multitude of factors: stage in life, my mood, time of day, season of the year. In other words it shifts constantly. But that’s the beauty of Scripture – it’s a living document that engages us where we are. Sometimes it’s comforting, at other times it’s challenging. It can inspire or reveal or awe or confuse.

Nonetheless there are passages that we return to again and again. They may serve as mantras or aim to remind us of certain spiritual truths – like God’s love or our need to reach out to others. One such passage for me comes from Hebrews 12:1: “Let us run with patience the race that is set before us.” It resonates with me on a number of levels. First, the recognition that the journey of life and faith is not a sprint; it is rather about endurance. It is not always about comfort and ease but it is about overcoming obstacles and remaining steadfast in faith even when things fail to go our way.

The other reason I’m drawn to this passage, especially this time of year, is that I’m a runner. While I run outside year round to keep in touch with the change of seasons, nothing beats the transition from winter to spring. Running again in shorts and a short sleeve shirt is so freeing compared to the layering involved in running through a New England winter. I’m not the greatest runner in the world; I’m never in danger of winning a race or even coming close. But I have completed four marathons and so the notion of running the race with “patience” is appealing. At my pace I have no choice but to run with patience!

And not to delve too deeply into sports metaphors (which I tend to reserve for Super Bowl Sunday), but our lives do have much in common with marathoning. There are times when we all hit a spiritual “wall;” times when we want to quit and the thought of continuing is abhorrent. But we don’t. We keep on going, putting one foot in front of the other until we break through the wall of physical pain and emotional doubt.

In the past year or so I haven’t been running as much as I usually do. The last race I ran was the Providence Marathon in April of 2009. Some of this has to do with taking on my new position as rector of St. John’s in Hingham – I just haven’t had enough time. Yes, I realize this is a lame excuse but it works for me. I’ve been running just three or four miles a few days a week. But the other reason is that I haven’t found a regular group to run with. I, frankly, need the motivation to get out the door sometimes especially early in the morning. If you know of any runners looking for company please let me know. Sunday mornings don’t work too well for me; for some reason my congregation tends to appreciate it when I show up. You’re welcome to share your favorite Bible passage with me (or not). And in return I promise I won’t try to baptize you.


4 Comments on “Some of My Favorite Things”

  1. Patrick Ward says:

    Still looking to find a replacement for me–your former running buddy.

  2. jim Cole says:

    Oops! I had a typo in my e-mail address. It’s corrected here.

  3. Jim Cole says:

    I wish I ran or jogged, but I don’t. At my age (62!), I love to walk and not to run. My favorite scripture, often mentioned by Jan Karon in her Mitford novels, is Philippians 4:13: I can do all things through him who strengthens me. But I don’t apply it to jogging.

  4. Father Tim says:

    Jim — walking’s great too. Being active is what it’s all about!

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