“Never Mind!”

“Never Mind!”

I have not watched “Saturday Night Live” in several years–I don’t stay up as late as I did in my younger years!–but when I was a frequent viewer I especially enjoyed Gilda Radner’s “Never mind!” routine. She would come on as a commentator on a news program, and start a rant based on a mis-hearing
of some phrase in the news. “What’s all this talk these days about the need for an Eagle Rights Amendment?” she would ask. “Why do we care about the
rights of eagles? With all of the real problems in the human race, I find it very strange that…” At this point the anchor person would lean over and
whisper in her ear. Then she would stare at the camera and say “Never mind!” (My other favorite was her rant about “excessive violins on television.”)

Recently I read something that focused on the Paschal Mystery, and I remembered a theological “Never mind!” kind of event that took place a few
years ago at an ecumenical conference. We had just heard a fine lecture by a Catholic theologian who had said at one point that the the Paschal Mystery
was central to understanding what God is doing in the universe. In the discussion period that followed a pastor stood up and thanked the theologian
for insisting that “pastoral ministry is central to understanding what God is doing in the universe.” The lecturer handled it quite well, not openly
embarrassing the pastor. But there were many smiles and raised eyebrows in the audience. And I am sure that I was not the only one who heard quiet
echoes of Gilda Radner announcing “Never mind!”

In thinking about this later, I did feel sorry for the questioner. My guess is that he had been experiencing some discouragement in his ministry, and he
was grasping at what he thought was a clear word of encouragement: that pastoral ministry is important–indeed it is central to God’s unfolding
purposes in the world. And while technically he had it wrong, he was at least pointing unwittingly to a connection that needs to be emphasized. The
work of pastors can be aligned with the very center of God’s workings in the world, if–and the “if” here is all important–pastoral ministry is serving the mission that God has instituted in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

To be sure, pastoral ministry is not the only important link to the Paschal Mystery. Whether we work in the marketplace or teach at a university or stay
home and take care of our kids or produce films in Hollywood or serve among the poorest of the poor–if we see ourselves as serving the mission of God
in the world, a mission that is grounded in the atoning work of Jesus Christ, we can be confident that we connected to the very heart of what God is
doing in the universe. And pastoral ministry can loom large in all of this if it is guided by a profound vision of what the Paschal Mystery is all about. There is no “Never mind!” about that!


  1. Excuse me for not responding to the above blog, but I was wondering if you (Dr. Mouw) could in your next blog give some response to the letter put out by the Muslim leaders to the world’s christian leaders (if you were not planning on it already). I would love to hear your perspective on what some are calling an unprecedented step in Muslim/Christian dialogue.

    Thanks much,

    Daniel groot

    Comment by Daniel Groot — October 11, 2007 @ 2:27 pm

  2. that’s okay…SNL sux now. I have a couple of questions:
    1. who is paschal?
    2. why is Daniel Groot making blog requests?

    thx…oh yeah,


    Comment by punkfuller.com — October 13, 2007 @ 12:09 am

  3. Dr.Mouw, thanks for your sharing on this powerful message. In my deep distress and desperation, I visited a pastor who leads “resurrection Ministry” by a friend’s referral on the day, when my friend Michael died in a car accident four years ago. I did not know the name of the ministry until I sat down with the pastor. She prayed with me and anointed me with “Live and Joy”. She asked me what my friend would love to see when he looks down from heaven: my tears or my smiling face?

    In my Christian consciousness mind, I never realized how powerful Christ’s resurrection means until that day. Michaels’ mother had given me any opportunities to share the Gospel with her for the last four years ever since Michael’s death. However, the joy of experiencing Christ’s resurrection prompted me to write Act 4:33 on a book about women in ministry and gave her as a gift. We prayed that the Lord would speak to her directly through His words in a loving and gentle way which she’d understand and will to receive the good news.

    I got a call the next day and heard her cherry voice I was longing to hear for years. The precious conversation about God, prayers and forgiveness made my heart sing.


    Comment by Lan — October 13, 2007 @ 2:13 pm

  4. A Catholic theologian gave a special lecture at a university on “the incarnation.” The university newspaper covering it reported the lecture as being about “reincarnation.” The university was Notre Dame!

    Comment by John — November 25, 2007 @ 9:11 pm