Thursday, November 13, 2014

Anonymous asked: What draws you to pastoral ministry?

An anonymous question from Tumblr during my attempt at "Ask Away Weds" came in with this:

What draws you to pastoral ministry?

Here's my reply.

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There are two core … wait.  Three.  Three core things I get deeply excited about in ministry.

* Scripture.  I am giddy about Scripture.  I have not always been.  I started seminary with a heavy wariness about the Bible, not in small part because as a queer woman it’s been directly quoted against me.  I committed myself to unlearning this.  It’s taken a long time, and it wasn’t pretty, but now I have an almost unrelenting enthusiasm.  There is beauty in there, you guys.  So much beauty, and so many interwoven voices, and such a depth of meaning — this incredible collection of stories of our failures and successes and failures again, and of God’s everpresent love and truth and challenge and hope for us.  It gives me tingles.

But so many people never get to experience that from the Bible.  It’s used as a weapon, or as a standard of “righteousness”, or as a source of guilt if you don’t know enough about it.  So I am hungry, absolutely hungry, to crack open the beauty of the Bible and reveal its richness.  There’s a whole feast in there, if we’d just let ourselves nibble a bit.

* Sacraments.  I want to preside over the communion table.  I have no way to explain this logically.  There is just something in me that has been gripped by the Eucharist, caught like a hook in my heart.  I crave it.  There is something beautiful and phenomenal, literally, that happens in communion, and I do not know how to explain how badly I want to be part of that.

* Truth-telling.  The proclamation of the word of God goes beyond the interpretation of scripture.  It’s about a prophetic and powerful word in every aspect of our lives.  Sometimes that means I listen to someone in pain, and instead of saying “Whenever God closes a door…”  I say “That sucks.  I’m here.  I’ll walk with you.”  That’s a proclamation of truth — that pain is scary but real, and God is present with us in it.

Truth-telling as a proclamation of the word of God also involves looking at systems or people who are acting in ways that oppress, denigrate, or otherwise prevent others from living out their own calling in Christ, and saying, “I get that you’re angry and afraid, but you cannot act like this.”

Just kidding, there are four things.

* Worship.  Coming together in community to hear the word of God and experience the presence of Jesus… this feeds me.  I hunger for it.  I love cultivating weird and quirky things in worship that catch people by surprise and invite them to experience new depths and meaning to scripture and life.

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