“Words, stories, sacraments, images, gestures: pastors have really nothing else.”
Gordon Lathrop in The Pastor A Spirituality
So it is my first year anniversary as an ordained elder in the church. It seems like a wonderful time to reflect on my last year of ministry and on my first year as an ordained person. Much conversation has been going on around me about the meaning, purpose, and need of/for the ordained life. I’ll have to admit that after four years of ministry and one year of ministry as an ordained person I am more convinced than ever of the importance of ordained ministry in the church.
It might surprise you that my conclusion has little to do with job security (guaranteed appointment), position (are pastors that highly regarded anymore?), or titles (what you call me means little to me). It does have something to do with baptism, for it binds us and makes us one people: people who need to remember their identity and that in the most difficult times of their life need one who reminds, calls, and invokes . . . one who can stand in those liminal places (threshold places, transition places, difficult places, changing places) and represent the body of Christ.
And so I’ve spent the last year playing with words, stories, sacraments, images, and gestures. After these early years of ministry I wholeheartedly agree that I have nothing else. This is humbling and scary at the same time. I do not have fame, fortune, position, power, control . . . all I have is these things that have been given to me and that have been activated in me by the laying on of hands. I can’t tell you how many times I have wanted to have more and then the Spirit has reminded me that I have what I need, that I have been given what I need.
So it seems like the Spirit that was invoked on me last year is still working at it, not yet finished, making sure that all of me is covered, all of me is saturated, all of me is drowning. Poured out, once more, poured out like at my baptism long ago, poured out so that I can let it drip from me, pour from me . . . for the life of the world.
Thanks be to God!