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Ask a YCW: Discerning a Call Edition

Dear Askie,

I think God is calling me to ministry! I never realized what a long and involved process it’s going to be to become a pastor. And did you know that even with a seminary degree, ordination isn’t guaranteed??? I was shocked to find out there are so many things I have to do! And so many people I have to impress and convince that they should ordain me! Do you have any advice for me?

Thanks,
Ordination Discerner

 

Dear Discerner,

Congratulations! Discernment is a wonderful thing. Everyone, everywhere should do it more often. Indeed the world would be a better place if we all endeavored to more fully align our will with God’s Dream for our lives on a regular basis. Blessings to you as you seek to explore God’s call to ordained ministry in your denomination. I hope this journey will be enriching and lead to a place of joy and fulfillment, whether that is serving God and the Church through ordination or as a baptized Christian. I have a number of years of experience working with people in ordination process (+ the additional years of my own process). Out of those experiences, I would like to offer some practical advice. I have noticed that sometimes people make missteps in the process, and I would like to assume that is most often due to a lack of education about process and expectations. Therefore, here is some friendly advice, with the caveat that this is just one person’s perspective and is neither an exhaustive list, nor one that will work or apply in all contexts and situations. Nonetheless, hopefully it will be helpful. Read more

#BelovedCommunity

Hashtag my trauma
Publicize my drama
Go ahead, paparazzi me and my mama.

Don’t understand
The supply and demand
For our vulnerable blogs
And sensational vlogs
Voyerism or loneliness?
My addiction to the blue screen
My thumb scrolling fast and mean,
A desire to know and be known
Yet the tandem desire to be left alone

Get one mention in Sunday’s sermon
And his/her/their pain goes viral
Tweeting for a few days
But what’s the homiletical plot?
Does the preaching change the lot?
Did we give an altar call,
eyes closed,
heads bowed,

Alleviate affliction, humble the proud, did we end with the cup and the bread, somehow praying for the sick and remembering our dead?

Did you have a moment of reflection for their rejection,

Did we have a what next, a call to action?

Is anyone on their feet, or is it social media reactions?
Am I the hands and feet? Or the typing fingers of the body,
Will we see each other face to face and meet?
Will we let ego keep us separated and haughty?

Or is the virtual perception, my new reality, our only connection.

Maybe I need the church to help me feel,
Your blog to help me heal,
But maybe and I think you know it, too,
We need to touch and pray like we used to do,
Then go out and serve
Instead of remain
Impotent outside of a web domain
Nothing wrong with the internet
But human contact Just might yet
Be the way we were meant to be
Somewhere inside of the beloved community

THINK acronym and explanation of digital media posting

THINK Before You Post

THINK acronym and explanation of digital media postingI want my life motto to be Galatians 5:22-23. …the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against things like this. (CEB)

Some days, life with these virtues is so hard.

Imagine this. You have had a full day of ministry, and your brain is about fried. You’ve been going, going, going for 14+ hours, and you need a moment to step back and take a breather. You get home, get into some comfy loungy clothes, grab a cup of tea (or maybe a glass of wine), and sit down in your favorite cushy chair. It’s a perfect opportunity to unwind. You think, “I’d love to catch up with some friends. I wonder what they are up to today.” You open your Facebook feed.

What you see does nothing to revive your soul. It does not help you reconnect with your friends. Instead, you begin to feel more disconnected and even offended at what you see. You become discouraged, hopeless, angry. Read more

black and white photos of different faces covering a large wall, with three women on a bench looking at them

A Whole Person

black and white photos of different faces covering a large wall, with three women on a bench looking at them

Last night as we lay in bed, my husband Simon, who is a student at the college where I am the chaplain, mentioned that a fellow classmate had asked to “friend” him on Facebook. He asked what I thought he should do, so we began a conversation about his options and how he might handle the situation, knowing that there wasn’t really a perfect answer.

“There are consequences if I choose not to friend her, if I choose to friend her while locking her out of all the personal portions of my page, or if I choose to leave it all wide open,” he said. “And I’m pretty sure I don’t want her to see the pictures from the last time we went clubbing or the ones of me in the wedding dress at my stag do.”

Three years ago we never would have had these conversations, but now that I am clergy, these conversations are a constant. We both must filter what we share with the people around us based on context, their confidentiality, and what we want the world to know about The Chaplain.

We all filter the pieces of ourselves that we share with others. Often unconsciously, we build up certain parts of the story and censor others so that what we have to share will flow easily into our listener’s mind, mingling with what they already know about us. Sometimes we choose to filter in order to avoid difficult conversations and truths. And sometimes we filter because we must, because jobs or relationships demand that our story fractures, so that some pieces may remain carefully reserved for telling in special circumstances only. As ministers this is a reality of what we do. Sometimes it is the work that allows us to minister in our context and to our people. Read more