Sunday, August 9, 2009

This is our ministry…

Last week, I shared that Indianapolis’ nickname is “Nap Town.” Turns out, that’s quite misleading. I was in Indy for four days, and didn’t take one nap. I didn’t sleep much, period. Thanks to Donna Jarvi for this observation. We were having lunch, and she asked about General Assembly. I said, “Great, and tiring.” She quipped, “Not really ‘Nap Town,’ is it?” I smiled. We then talked about rearranging furniture in the Narthex, and what further work needs doing in the Adopt-a-Room process. Please help out, if you can, donating time, effort, cash, or skills to assist Donna. She’s been a fabulous leader in this, and we’re oh so close. As well, please thank Laurie Leonhart for working hard with me to craft vision for the Narthex rearranging. Like for instance, we are now calling that space the Welcome Center- a name that better describes our mission for that room. Thanks Laurie and Donna!

Getting back to General Assembly, know that those tiring activities bore fruit. I reconnected with friends, mentors, and former congregants. I attended a workshop on the denomination’s new standards for ordaining ministers. We took a monumental vote on that topic, by the way, and it’s quite a change. An improvement, if you ask me, though I have friends who disagree vehemently. More on that in another letter, though, because I want to share the most important thing about last weekend- I understood in a deeper way than ever before what a great church we attend!

Maybe it’s because I’m now a solo pastor. But in the five years I’ve been a member of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), I never felt so awed and appreciative of our tradition and its people. We’re part of a wonderful church. The people we serve and worship with are talented, creative servants of Jesus. And while I knew that was true here in Plymouth, I’m still just learning how true that is for the rest of our church.

I’m reminded of a sermon I heard in seminary. Santiago Piñon, a Disciples minister and our Director of Field Education, looked at us ministers-in-training and repeated one crucial phrase: This…is…our…ministry. He went on to describe every word in that sentence, and why each was important. This week, I’m focused on the word our. Because what we do every week shares in something beyond individual efforts, and contributes to a glorious whole- The Reign of God. And as members of the Disciples of Christ denomination, there’s a wonderful flavor to those efforts that deserves celebrating, and knowing more about.

For instance, did you know that some of the nation’s best preachers are Disciples? I heard one, Frank Thomas, preach last Saturday. He urged us to be open to revival, as were our ancestors in faith, and to acknowledge that God does God’s best work…suddenly! Like when God’s Spirit arrived on Pentecost…suddenly! Great sermon. Or have you heard about the Blue Jesus? It’s from a Disciples church in CA who preaches that “going green” isn’t just about trees. It’s also about keeping the oceans and rivers safe for wildlife and drinking water. So they host Mission Trips about Jesus-going-blue. I saw Disciples from Hawaii in beautiful floral wraps and shirts, Disciples from South Carolina in traditional African Garb, Disciples from Oklahoma in magnificent cowboy hats. I spoke with a South Korean friend who was just hired by a predominantly Anglo church in KY (one of the fastest growing in the denomination). He’ll be their Minister of Connect, which I don’t understand, but he’s excited! It’s awesome that all these unique people are our sisters and brothers in Christ Jesus. And all their unique ministries aren’t just their ministries. This is our ministry.

If you can’t tell, I’m inspired. The witness of our family of faith, a family that loves unity and liberty, covenant and Scripture, has much to teach and benefit our world. I pray we share that witness boldly. That we love our neighbors as passionately possible. That our story- every day- contributes something beautiful to the glorious Reign of God. For this is our ministry. What a good ministry it is.

Grace and Peace,