As I prepare for work/worship on Sunday, I realize that I actually don’t have any huge responsibilities – it’s a “regular” Sunday School day, and the high school youth are doing worship. It’s also the last week of the month which usually means I don’t have so many meetings. So…I’m thinking that my work Sunday morning will comprise generally of hanging-out…which means playing with the babies in the nursery and visiting Sunday School classes, oo-ing and ah-ing over the little creations made by little hands.
The ministry of presence is the ministry of hanging-out. I’ve discovered it takes different forms but the core of it is consistent. It means simply being with people and then being a space for people.
:: Ministry of Coffee-Places
This is pretty self-explanatory, but it is a huge part of how I “do” ministry. I have my “office hours” at a local coffee spot a few days a week because I’m able to hunker down, focus, and be productive – but I like being in this “third space,” a different kind of space to interact with folks outside of church or home. It’s a space that I can do everything from interact with locals and college students, hang out with high school kids, and sometimes just people-watch and get a feel for what’s going on in town. For me, it’s a way to share a hunger for community in a different way.
:: Ministry of Coming-Over
I don’t drop in on people too often (I do have a youth advisor who is a neighbor, and she is actually one exception since it’s easy to walk over). But, as I explore hospitality, I continue to think about how it is that in true and genuine hospitality the lines are blurred between the giver and receiver. Hospitality becomes a mutual thing…so that when I receive someone’s hospitality, I end up ministering to them in different ways…and vice versa: When I have folks come over, when they receive my hospitality I receive something sweet in return…
:: Ministry of Crying-Together
I’ve found that the most comforting thing during moments in my own struggles is someone to simply be still with me. I don’t need advice or solutions, and maybe not even someone to “understand” – I just need someone to be broken with me. So, when I do this ministry it can include everything from visitations in the hospital to sitting with someone in their living room, holding their grief and loss. It’s about sharing our humanity with someone. No words are usually required because a hug or hand speaks volumes. Tears speak, too.
…But, I’m realizing that for me to do this ministry well, I have be present in and with myself. This means being aware of who I am, my own craziness and questions, as well as embracing who I am as a young-ish (it’s relative) Asian American woman… It means vocalizing injustices, speaking out for those who are voiceless, and caring about those issues that affect me. It means being authentic (though a term that’s often over-used, I still feel it resonates with me, perhaps because it’s a way for me to invite others to be themselves, too).
And, for now, I need to finish this up so I can actually practice what I’m mulling over…particularly this morning at church!