A little over twenty years ago, as I was preparing for my own ordination, I read somewhere that there are essentially five milestones in the Christian life. Some of us experience all of them, while others only experience a few. These milestones are birth, baptism, confirmation, marriage, and death.
“Who,” the author inquired, “is the one in the life of the community of faith who is invited to help celebrate all five?”
The answer, of course, is the pastor.
I have not ever forgotten that entreaty to remember that ordained ministry, like all ministry, is not ever supposed to be reduced to a mere duty, and it is certainly never a right. Ministry, in all of its blessings and heartbreaks, is and forever shall be, a privilege. It is a privilege because it is the way that all of God’s people discover and live the lives that God knit us together to have, and it is in these very lives, especially in how they are lived in community, that the love of God in Jesus Christ is supremely experienced and understood.
I have been reflecting upon the privilege of ministry lately, about those people over the last two decades with whom I have celebrated those five milestones in concert with a season of personal reflection upon my ministry with you, the people of Reveille United Methodist Church.
There is much that we have done together in these last two years of which I am proud, more than I can list here. I am proud of our commitment to our current “Season of Prayer and Discernment.” I am proud of our deepening relationships with Koinonia Christian Church and Love Center of Unity Full Gospel Church International in Swansboro. I am proud of additions we have made to our staff, of how we have reimagined our church Council and Committee structure. I am proud of our ministries of worship, growth, and service I am proud of you and how you have stretched and evolved in order to adapt to significant changes in our life together over these two years, especially our young people. I am proud that someone believes in us enough to invest a million dollars in our future.
Still, I have discerned that I have not spent adequate time hearing your stories, celebrating those five milestones in your lives. It was relationships, with God and with people, that led me into ordained ministry. It was mending spiritual wounds and speaking grace to broken hearts that originally led me to the pulpit, not the other way around.
As a pastor, I believe that it is important for us to know one another, and I will continue to seek ways for us to build relationships between, to learn each other’s stories, and to witness the ways in which the Spirit of God is working in and through our individual lives and through our collective life and witness in the church.
To that end, I am eagerly anticipating our upcoming listening sessions wherein we can share with one another what God has revealed to us through the Season of Prayer in which we engaged during this season of Eastertide. Furthermore, I will be seeking opportunities to meet with you one-on-one so that we can engage in holy conversations together so that we can learn one another’s dreams for all that this tremendous church we so love can be in God’s time and by God’s grace.
Finally, I will be in contact with you more often than this monthly article allows by sharing relevant stories and information about our church at this blog.
I look forward to seeing you soon, to our life together, and to all that the God of life is unfolding in our midst.
Grace and peace,
Doug, you have offered an open, honest, pastoral message – beautifully stated. “May those who have ears hear what the Spirit is saying to the Church”…..through you.
Prayers as you endeavor to lead as a ‘good shepherd’. Shalom. RogerD