Thursday, March 25, 2010

The going is tough . . . but necessary

A Candler colleague of mine said something today that struck me: "One thing I've learned about ministry is that it teaches you to go!" I think he's right. "Going" is one of the premises of ministry. Hence the language about "Go ye therefore and make disciples, yadda, yadda yadda."
I think you get the point.

But I must admit I'm not always ready to go. . . not always ready to take the leap . . . take that step . . . go where I'm called. Basically because it means that I'm leaving something behind . . . leaving people behind . . . leaving a life that was started behind . . . leaving even a part of myself behind. The reality is, this is the life that I am called to now -- a vocation where my greatest joys and purpose meets the world's greatest need. At least that's how theologian Frederick Buechner describes this vocation of ministry. It is one that requires service to the "other", where ever they may be. This is where the tension lies: You have this life of new promise before you, but a wrestling in the spirit over the journey that must be taken.

It's interesting that I find myself thinking about this now . . . during this season of Lent . . . on the eve of Holy Week . . . approaching the days when we will reflect on the journey Christ took to the cross. It leaves me wondering whether Jesus ever wrestled with the going. Did some of those questions come to mind as he embarked on his ministry? It's possible, even though he knew he should "be about his father's business." That's knowledge I too, have, but it doesn't stop me from being apprehensive or giving "the going" a second thought. I have to believe that in Jesus' humanity, the questions came to mind too . . . as the end was drawing near . . . as he prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane for the cup to pass . . . as he hung on the cross, seeing the face of his mother Mary and "John the Beloved" in despair. In Jesus' humanity, I have to believe that "the going" was tough.

But in the end it is necessary.

As I approach the end of my second year in seminary and face the reality of having to go again, I'm already becoming nostalgic. I am admittedly apprehensive, but yet I understand why I have to go. . . be willing to go. It is necessary. I came across a quote by Gwendolyn Brooks that I think makes it even more clear why my "going" is essential . . . why it matters. According to Brooks, "We are each other's harvest, we are each other's business, we are each other's magnitude and bond."

Now if that ain't a good description of what ministry is, I don't know what is.
So, in that vain, I go . . . am willing to go . . . will be ready to go.

1 comment:

Felisha said...

How insightful. As I am nearing the completion of my first year of seminary - a year where God has literally been teaching me that He is more than enough (though I have not been an easy person to convince) - ministry being synonomous with "going" makes perfect sense. I don't think we really have a full concept of the contract we're signing when we say, "Yes" to God. That who we used to be is just that: a used to be. God is moving us to the next and we're still longing for what's behind. Thank you for this inspiring text.