Monday, November 10, 2008

Monday Ministry Musing

I know lots of people going through the ordination process in the PCUSA. Someone from the presbytery that oversaw my own process is facing some of the same challenges of being stuck. This individual wrote a poem that got me thinking about my own process. I didn't ask permission to post it, but I used it as a reflection piece - for myself and for those who are stalled out in the process. I changed the wording, but kept the structure and the overall theme. This is like an epistle - if you listen to this end of the conversation, you can probably hear what's going on in the original poem.
What happens if I focus on the ordination process,
becoming callous (non-reverent) from the handling of holy things?
Or, in a desire to be called “Reverend,”
ignore the adjective when it doesn't come from a committee?
What if I miss the everyday chances
to live into my own baptism
because I'm focused on someone else
as a child of the covenant?
What if I never break the bread of hospitality
and pour the cup of tea at my own table,
or if I don't recognize them as “the gifts of God for the people of God”?
What if my voice is never heard (in a choir)?
What if I don't listen to those who set foot in a pulpit?

What if I made seminary about a piece of paper,
Whether a diploma,
or an ordination certificate,
and therefore wasted my time
and all our resources?

What if I believe that my usefulness to God
is equivalent to my usefulness to a denomination,
a local governing body,
a committee,
or a single congregation?

What if I think I'm not good enough,
even though the Lord of the Universe
took on flesh and died in my place,
then sent His Spirit to reassure me
of my place at His table?

What if I used seminary
as a buffer against following God's call?
What if I missed growing during that time
because I was waiting on something at the end...
...instead of waiting on God?

What if I lost sight of the glorious
ministry of the covenant people of God
because I wanted to be in the lead?

What if I missed out on the call to serve
a congregation from out of the midst of them
because I would only listen to a call if it
were duly authorized and passed through
paper channels.

What if I passed over the garment of praise,
the garment of salvation,
and the robe of Christ's righteousness
because it didn't look like a Geneva gown?

What if I made the mistake of taking a good thing
and missing out on the best thing.

Lord, I believe.
Help my unbelief.

Lord, You have called.
Help me follow You wherever You call.
Here's Martin Luther's prayer for his own ordination:
Oh, Lord God, Thou hast made me a pastor and teacher in the Church. Thou seest how unfit I am to administer rightly this great and responsible Office; and had I been without Thy aid and counsel I would surely have ruined it all long ago. Therefore, do I invoke Thee. How gladly do I desire to yield and consecrate my heart and mouth to this ministry! I desire to teach the congregation. I, too, desire ever to learn and keep Thy Word my constant companion, and to meditate thereupon earnestly. Use me as Thy instrument in Thy service, Only do not Thou forsake me, for if I am left to myself, I will certainly bring it all to destruction. AMEN.
May all who seek leadership among God's covenant people say Amen!

1 comment:

Dave Moody said...

deep thoughts. thanks Chris
grace & peace in the journey...