Pastor Barry is calling this coming Sunday "Seminary Sunday," I think because it is the anniversary of when he got ordained or something. Since I am half a class and a few transfer credits into an M.Div. myself, he wants me to say something to the congregation about my "calling" to the ministry, so one of my projects this week has been to try figure out what I'm going to say.
I feel that the paltry number of blogposts I have written this year so far is disgraceful, but it's mostly because I'm having a little trouble getting my head round the things I want to write about, enough to write about them, so I'm going to cheat a little and once again post something in here that I have written for another purpose entirely. This is my little "talk" for Sunday. (If you go to GPC, you might want to avert your eyes, so that my delivery on Sunday is not extra-boring for you.) Critiques are acceptable. So are theological debates, if necessary. Just try not to get the two of them mixed up.
So . . . I’m taking this seminary class? One of the most recent lectures touched upon how the earliest of the early Church didn’t make a distinction between sacred and secular vocation. To be called by God meant first of all that He had called you to repentance and forgiveness and reconciliation with Himself and with other people. Then that influenced your calling for what to do with your life. Early Christians lived out their Christianity no matter what they were doing; they all wanted the people they rubbed shoulders with every day to know about the love of God for them through Jesus Christ. So every job was important, whether you were a ship’s navigator or a carpenter or a seamstress or whatever, because every job was an opportunity to work toward excellence and to show people the love of Jesus.
I was listening to this lecture thinking, “Yes! That’s how it’s supposed to be!” It reminded me of this time at another church when I had just started working at Starbucks, and I really believed that that job was how I could best serve Christ at the time. This man came up to me and, knowing I had been a missionary once, said, “But don’t you ever think about going back into the ministry?”
I got so angry, it was all I could do to keep from losing my “Christian” cool and yelling, “Are you completely blind?! How can you be so narrow-minded?” Instead I said calmly, “Well, I think Starbucks is the ministry, too.”
And it was, so you might wonder how I ended up back working for a church and now starting seminary, if I feel that strongly about it. Sometimes I wonder that, too, but I guess even though I do feel strongly that God can reach people through any Christian doing anything and that no task is more noble or more “called” than another, I think I have been called to kind of church-y ministry, mostly. I don’t really know how old I was when I found out that not everybody knew about Jesus, but however old it was, I knew right then that I needed to make sure they found out about Him. I don’t think anyone told me this . . . although my parents were missionaries, so maybe I picked it up by osmosis.
Anyway, I’ve always had a very strong sense that God was true, and that Jesus was, too, and even though a lot of things have changed about me since I first made that decision to tell people about Jesus . . . I still like to talk about Him. And I find that I still care whether or not people know He loves them, and whether or not they know what it is He did for them, through His life, death and resurrection. And whether or not they know He is calling them and wants to make Himself known somehow through them, too.
I didn’t always think it was Biblical (and therefore “okay”) for women to be pastors. If you want to know how my mind changed on that one, you can ask me about it sometime, but anyway, it did, and as soon as it did, I wondered if maybe one of these days God might call me to be a pastor, too.
I’m still not 100% sure He has, except in the sense that “pastor” means “shepherd” or “caretaker,” and in reality I’ve been spiritually “taking care” of people in some way or other for years. Since it seems like I’m going to do that for the rest of my life anyway, I don’t think it could hurt to get some more training to help me do it better. I do know that sometimes He calls people to work at coffee shops or at Norton’s or at Shaw’s, but other times He calls people to buckle down and study about Him so they can provide strength and guidance for all those people working hard and rubbing shoulders with folks who don’t think they’ve met Him yet. I believe He has called me to GPC at this time, and I’ve sort of stumbled into the opportunity to get more training. The doors keep opening, so I’ll just keep walking through them and we’ll see where I end up!
Last fall, I applied to the Masters of Divinity programme at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Wenham, MA. Right now I am getting my feet wet with that church history class I mentioned. You would think that it might be boring, but I find it absolutely fascinating--I love it. So far all this seems to be a good move. As I take it a step at a time, I trust God will keep leading, and I hope you will pray for me when you think of it, that I will learn what He wants me to learn, become who He wants me to become, and do what He wants me to do.