Sunday’s Scripture ~ Revelation 3:1-6.
Devotion Focus: I Corinthians 12:7-11.
The Apostle Paul in I Corinthians 12 acknowledges that each member of the Body of Christ receives gifts or skills from God in order to serve the Body and to equip the Body to serve beyond itself. Each one of us has something to offer. Some are even called to a special ‘set apart’ ministry. This is the calling of the clergy.
“Ordained ministers are called by God to a lifetime of servant leadership in specialized ministries among the people of God. Ordained ministers are called to interpret to the Church the needs, concerns, and hopes of the world and the promise of God for creation. Within these specialized ministries, deacons are called to ministries of Word, Service, Compassion, and Justice and elders are called to ministries of Service, Word, Sacrament, and Order. Through these distinctive functions ordained ministers devote themselves wholly to the work of the Church and to the upbuilding of the ministry of all Christians. They do this through the careful study of Scripture and its faithful interpretation; through effective proclamation of the gospel and responsible administration of the sacraments; through diligent pastoral leadership of their congregations for fruitful discipleship; and by following the guidance of the Holy Spirit in witnessing beyond the congregation in the local community and to the ends of the earth. The ordained ministry is defined by its faithful commitment to servant leadership following the example of Jesus Christ, by its passion for the hallowing of life, and by its concern to link all local ministries with the widest boundaries of the Christian community” (¶139 BOD 2016).
The path to ordination begins with an individual identifying and articulating his or her call first before God, and second, in The United Methodist Church, before the local church body. What unfolds next is a rigorous journey of educational, written, and interview requirements whereby individuals pursuing ordination refine their call, articulate their understanding of theology, and demonstrate their fitness for ministry. The Board of Ordained Ministry in each Annual Conference is the group responsible for discerning candidates’ fitness for ministry based on the witness provided. The Board of Ordained Ministry recommends candidates for ordination, which occurs at Annual Conference each year. Ordination is the act that acknowledges and celebrates the ‘set apart ministry’ of an individual by his or her church community. Those who are ordained bear the responsibility to live authentic lives becoming of the gospel and to lead others in living those lives as well.
I started my path towards ordination at the age of 11 – even though I could not articulate at that time what I was doing – God knew what God was doing. My ordination journey led me to Florida Southern College and onto Candler School of Theology at Emory University. My ordination journey led me to submit and present over 200 pages of theological reflection and critical thinking during a five year period. My ordination journey led me to serve with the people of New Horizon in Haines City, Reeves Memorial in Orlando, Tuskawilla in Casselberry-Winter Springs, and now to South Shore in Riverview.
I feel deeply the weight and importance of God’s call to care for and to guide this congregation. Even on my hardest days – and there have been some hard days in all of my appointments – I cannot imagine doing anything else. I am not what I produce but I am and the product of what the I AM is doing through me.
I am grateful for my clergy sisters and brothers that journey alongside me. I am grateful for the congregations that have graciously received me so that together we can attend to God’s work before us. Making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world looks similar…and different…in every context. That is both a comfort and a challenge. It is good that we do not work alone. It is good that many are called to be the heads, hearts, and hands of God in the world. When clergy and laity serve hand in hand, we make the Kingdom present. Together we make the Kingdom more real.
Prayer: “O let the Son of God enfold you with his Spirit and his love. Let him fill your heart and satisfy your soul. O let him have the things that hold you, and his Spirit like a dove will descend upon your life and make you whole. Jesus, O Jesus, come and fill your lambs. Jesus, O Jesus, come and fill your lambs.”* Amen.
*”Spirit Song,” The United Methodist Hymnal 347.