Wednesday, March 6, 2013
In one of the Formation for Ministry classes this week, the readings and scripture centered on Callings. Members of the class were asked to write a brief paper on the sense of calling at this time and the risks involved in following that calling. With permission from the student, we are sharing one of those papers here:
FFM 3, Week 6 Paper
I don’t understand this “call” business at all; I really don’t. When people talk about their grand call stories where they speak of hearing God’s voice I throw up my hands in disgust, not at the people but either at me for my pitiful spiritual ears or at God for not getting around to turning his mic on yet. And yeah I said “his” because I just know I’ll hear James Earl Jones in my head when God decides it’s finally time to speak up. That’s the way it’s supposed to happen, right?
It’s funny all the different thoughts I have when people talk about hearing God’s voice. I feel some mild jealousy with a bit of bewildered thrown in. Once you add a pinch of indignant and finish it off with a dash of skepticism it becomes a healthy stew of, “COME ON GOD, WHERE ARE YA? DON’T YOU THINK IT’S ABOUT TIME?” It sure would help if God would speak up like with Abraham or Isaac or Jacob or even Bob or Betty.
I’m amazed then that I still feel called. Even without the Burning Bush moment, I ache with an insane and masochistic draw to ministry. There is a pull and a desire and an I-have-to-do-this notion like I’ve never experienced before. I feel like I’m sucked into ministry and I can’t avoid it, all the while really enjoying the ride. Maybe God knows what works on me though. I tend to be attracted to things that I only get a hint of and God belting out a “HEY PREACHER, I HAVE A PLAN FOR YOU” wouldn’t exactly be the mystery that I keep trying to figure out. And that’s what this draw feels like. Every time I get pulled in a little closer, every time I get another little whiff of God’s will, the attraction grows greater until now I am much like Alice down the rabbit hole. I’m tumbling down God’s Will, totally out of control. Who knew how deep it would be? Who knew it would change what my whole world looks like?
When I come to think of it like that, God best be with me in this because this kind of surreal life changing experience is terrifying. Jesus wasn’t joking when he said people would make fun of you. I mean my own Elders giggle sometimes. They keep wondering which hair-brained idea I’ll bring back from seminary next and then figure out how they’re going to get out of it after they vote for it. My fear though is it’s only going to get worse.
See, seminary changed me. This fall down the rabbit hole is doing something to me so that I’ve gained intensity like I’ve not had before. I never had this desire to do something wholly, with all that I am and that’s how I feel all the sudden. I am convinced by this seminary that the idea of all of God’s creatures living in God ordained community is central to the Christian faith. That is discipleship. Call it liberation theology or progressive theology or don’t call it anything at all but the result is, I’ve bought in to this way of thinking about God and Christ and Creation and that’s what I am going to preach as best I can. I’m scared because a lot of people don’t like that sermon. That Bible Study doesn’t always go so well. I’ve faced it in my church so much that I’ve had my call questioned, you know that one that I’ve never heard out loud.
But don’t you know that drew me in even more. This rabbit hole seems bottomless now. God best be down here.
Sunday, March 3, 2013
Because I have the privilege of working alongside Rev. Billy Vaughan, in addition to serving as Chaplain, I am steeped in our Formation for Ministry program. I took the position of Coordinator for Formation for Ministry in addition to the chaplaincy because I believe so strongly in the program. Soon there will be a website devoted specifically to Formation for Ministry and I look forward to having the opportunity to share more in that format.
I love listening to Krista Tippet and her podcast of On Being and was thrilled this week when her guest was Father Greg Boyle who wrote Tattoos on the Heart. There are several Formation classes that have used that text in class and even if you haven't read the book, this podcast is worth a listen. I'm especially fascinated by his distinction between kinship and service. Give it a listen and feel free to engage in conversation here about it!
Here is the link to the podcast:
The Calling of Delight