I am thinking about my call to ministry today.
In a week, I'll celebrate the 27th anniversary of my ordination. I cannot believe I've done anything this long. The years of seminary before my ordination were years of ministry, too, but not as an ordained person.
I believe God called me to the ministry of the Word and Sacrament because there isn't enough to me on my own to accomplish hearing and responding to the call as I have. I'm not being humble here or self-depreciating about my abilities. I am caught up in the mystery of hearing and responding to God's call to me. My home church agreed that I had a call, my professors agreed then the calling presbytery (who had NEVER ordained a woman) confirmed my call.
After all these years my call feels like a brand-new gift. Unbelievable. I am grateful for God's movement in my life.
At my Coffee Drinking Pastor's group on Wednesdays, we talk about our calls.
One of the funny riffs is how often my colleagues decide they are going to "give up" the ministry and do something (anything) else. I see humor in what they say because if you are bright enough to study scripture and compose a sermon, you are smart enough to understand that no one is really worthy enough to stand up in the pulpit and preach God's word.
And, if the riff is about how church members can upset the calmest of God's servants and church people do the silliest things at the worst times, and really! can't a person find a more workable structure than the institutional church(???) then I understand this, too.
Common piety demands that a pastor never doubt, never get angry, never wish to demit the ministry and never decry the entire church.
Real piety knows that the work is relentless.
The people are flawed.
The world stinks with misery every durn day.
So I just laugh and ask the complainer, "what was it that brought you back to ministry?" Then we hear of a scripture text that came to mind and healed the upset, or of a church member who acted with unseasonable kindness or the preacher got a good night's sleep. Or something.
Is that marvelous or what?
Have we not been called to walk on the most mysterious and beautiful path or what?
I mean it.
Thank you, God, for this life.