Vista La Mesa Christian Church

Marianna Kirwan
  • Marianna Kirwan

Membership: 135

Pastor (interim): Marianna Kirwan

Age: 70

Born: Chicago, Illinois

Formation: Pacific School of Religion, Berkeley; Claremont School of Theology, Claremont

Years Ordained: 32

San Diego Reader: How long do you spend writing your sermon?

Pastor Marianna Kirwan: From the lectionary, there are usually four readings each week, sometimes six. I read through those and decide which two I want to build a sermon around. From that time until I have it ready to stand up on Sunday morning and read, I’ve probably put in about eight hours…. In my sermons, I look for what’s stood the test of time to help this congregation to live out their faith. I want it to be practical and inspirational.

SDR: What is your main concern as member of the clergy?

PM: I retired about five years ago from active ministry. I have come back to work as interim pastor and I’m having the time of my life…. But if I have a concern, it’s that pastors not burn out by trying to please everyone or be everything to everybody.

SDR: Which of the Ten Commandments does your congregation have the hardest time keeping?

PM: I think they think it’s pass/fail for all of them — there’s one worse commandment and they haven’t committed that one. But I don’t think the commandments are ranked, and you get 10 points for each one and 100 is a passing score. They’re relational — an indication of how we relate to God and how we relate to one another. We’re supposed to keep all ten of them, not just two or three that we’re good at.

SDR: Why did you become a minister?

PM: I never set out to be a minister; I thought I was going to be a public school teacher. I’d done that for seven years and was looking for something more…. Haggai 2:8 says, “The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith the LORD of hosts.” I have had that experience more than once and I believe God doesn’t take care of everything, and God doesn’t sometimes take care of things that we hope God will, but sometimes God has something else in the pipeline.

SDR: Where do you go when you die?

PM: To tell you the truth, I think there is an afterlife and it’s going to make the Grand Canyon, as beautiful as it is, look two colors of gray. We’re going to know each other and we’re going to recognize love. I don’t know what it’s going to look like or much more about it, but I think it’s going to make the music of Mozart or your favorite music like two kids on a xylophone, compared to what is in store for us. I think there will be meaningful work; I don’t think we’re going to be sitting around on a cloud.

SDR: Does your view of the afterlife allow for the possibility of hell?

PM: I think when we die we get right where we’re supposed to be. I think we’re here on Earth to learn restraint and limits…. If we don’t learn that here, we’re going to clunk into a harder environment where it’s going to be harder to learn it…. I think God takes care of who goes where. That’s not my worry. I’m supposed to figure out how not to fall prey to my temper or my meaner side. I’m not the judge; that’s God’s work.

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