I’ve been an associate minister for two years. I love associate ministry. While I understand that it is a stepping stone for a lot of people, I feel deeply called to this role--both in general and in the specific context of the church I serve.
I used to be in solo ministry. When I made the transition, there were surprisingly few bumps--in large part due to my wonderful colleagues. And one of the big differences between solo and staff ministry is the increase in opportunities to work collaboratively.
With every cycle of our respiratory systems, we are sustained by the same intimate inspiration God exhaled into Adam’s muddy lungs. That breath permeates every cell of our being, nose to toes, invigorating our bodies and minds and souls until it is ready to be released, silently, from the same nostrils through which it came.
This is as ordinary as oxygen and carbon dioxide, and as extraordinary as spirit and miracle.
By the time I was admitted to the maternity ward and lashed to a bed with an IV line, my labor had progressed. With each contraction I felt as though the pain would suffocate me. When the nurse suggested she should call the anesthesiologist, I reluctantly agreed.
I was drying dishes and absentmindedly singing the song that had been stuck in my head for days when my husband suddenly came barreling down the staircase and into the kitchen. Looking frantic, he asked me what had happened. We were both confused; he was convinced that I had cried out in pain, and he fully expected to walk in on a grisly cooking incident.
We quickly realized the source of the miscommunication. The song I’d been singing was Lady Gaga’s “Judas,” and I sounded like a lady in distress as I belted out, “Judas, Juda-a-a.”
The texts for this week are challenging. The Gospel reading, an excerpt from Jesus’ high priestly prayer, is difficult to read aloud. It feels awkward to eavesdrop on Jesus’ intimate moments with God, and one can get lost in the anguish of a savior about to die.
There was a lot to celebrate at the recent
Pride parades. But while I support gay rights, I'm
oddly unenthusiastic about the prospect of my own denomination considering a resolution to become open and affirming.
Last spring I helped the church
I was in the process of leaving prepare for its 100th anniversary celebration.
One of my tasks was to track down contact information for the people on the
invitation list. It wasn't exactly what I went to seminary to do, but I'm a
librarian's daughter and otherwise generally disposed to exemplary
My sister Marie was reading the weekly e-mail update from
her daughter's kindergarten teacher. Amid reminders about library day and an
upcoming popsicle party, Mrs. R. noted that the class had visited a
presentation by the fifth graders about 9/11 and the bin Laden compound.
When mission organizations send out promotional
materials, they don't usually include missionary ruminations like Heather Hendrick's. She exposes her faith, doubt, frustration and hope with equal courage.
There's an interesting variation
between the New International and New Revised Standard versions of Isaiah 63:9.
The NIV expresses quite beautifully that "the angel of his presence saved
them," while the NRSV contends that "it was no messenger or angel but his
presence that saved them." Both convey Isaiah's revelation that God does not
plan to redeem creation by force, by tinkering with free will, or from afar.
God redeems creation by becoming one of us, by drawing near to us and being
For the first five years of my ministry, I served a small church
bereft of young children. Christmas presented the perfect opportunity to delve
into the mystery of the incarnation; our Christmas Eve services dripped with
candle wax and Christology.
In my new call as an associate pastor at a large suburban
congregation, I'm responsible for the Christmas Eve pageant.
In the Bible, God--or sometimes God's
messenger--often implores freaked-out men and women not to be afraid. It's a
standard divine greeting, a nicety to allay the pulse-quickening shock of
receiving a message from heaven. Frequently the commandment stands alone: Fear not, period. Sometimes it's
stitched to an object or person: Do not
be afraid of _____.