On Ministry, The Story I Find Myself In

In Uncategorized on August 28, 2011 at 3:38 pm

Submitted By: Gentry

“You’re good with words,” Kellie said. “So learn to use them with more precision.”

Ministry. One of those words that I have read and pondered for so long, but still struggle to define or pronounce.  I’m confident Brandon Bayne, my favorite seminary roommate, could give you a list of other words that I’ve failed to convert from conception to speech, but I can’t remember any of the others at the moment.

Three months ago I made a public commitment to put pastoral ministry on hold for the next four years. I was forced to make a commitment prior to my LeadBoston graduation and that seemed like the logical play.

Over the past four years, the practice of bi-vocational ministry has become more fiction than reality. As our family has grown from 2 to 4 – due mainly to the Pixie’s efficient production – evening hours that were once surrounded by text are now shaped by baths, dishes, and Lydian’s imperative to “brush teeth!”

Moreover, as my Facebook and Twitter streams suggest, my work responsibilities have increased as we’ve been blessed and burdened with a national grant and related focus on reducing the violence visited upon people with disabilities. As with many other nonprofits over the past few years demand for such services has spiked while the supply of providers has dwindled. We love what we do, so we reflexively bear the burdens, but that doesn’t make the work easier.

Thus, life is full, family is beautiful, and I’m fortunate to have work I love.

Yet, every time I hear a sermon – thankfully often skillful ones delivered by Father Patrick or Mother Beth – I wish I could sit with them and discuss homiletical design and function with them the following week. Later, when I lift my eyes above the altar, the host is snapped, and I feel something break inside, I am flooded with longing. Longing for bread in my mouth and chalice on my lips? Surely. Longing to celebrate the sacrament once again? Definitely.

Ministry is the word Kellie wants me to use with more precision. She wants me to recognize that working to reduce the violence that threatens to mar the image of God and accompanying people who are navigating impediments to opportunity is ministerial work well aligned with my calling – if only I have eyes to see it.

I have little doubt she is correct and am trying to cultivate sufficient gratitude for my current work and eyes that are open to intersection. Yet, in this moment, my eyes fill with longing for the revelation that sometimes happens during preparation and eagerly await for the Christ who has been taken, blessed, and broken to be given from my hands once again.

Lord, fill me with your Spirit that I might be faithfully aware during this season and well prepared for the seasons to come.

While wrapping this up, as if on cue, the door slammed open and I was visited by one of the curly-headed reasons for my commitment. Bandy legged and arms outstretched, she offered what appeared to be an invocation for the years ahead.


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