Saturday, April 14, 2007

Gifted and Graced

I remember, going through the candidacy process for ministry, (although whether it was in the official material or not I cannot remember,) a lot of discussion about whether one possessed the "gifts" and "graces" for ministry: gifts being those things that come easily to us, that are blessed and magnified by God in our calling, and graces, those things that perhaps did not come easily to us, but are given to us by God to help fulfill our calling. (For some reason, I don't think this is what the UMC meant by this, but it made sense at the time to my teenage mind.)

This phrase has captured my attention over these past few months, as I continue to recover from a year-long relapse with my chronic illness and at the same time discerning whether or not I am called to plant a church.

Unfortunately, although I would like to be of normal health, I'm not, nor will I ever be. Chances are, the place I'm at now: about 80% of normal physically and not being able to do more than 35-40 hours of work a week without serious repercussions is where I'll be for the rest of my life. Getting in better shape, learning to stick with a routine, and getting extra rest will help, but it will not significantly change my physical capacity to do work over the long term.

Based on this, it looks like church planting would, not be a great option for me. (For that matter, full time pastoral ministry wouldn't look like a great option either.) Church planting involves very high levels of stress, 80 hour workweeks, and few (if any) breaks for rest, especially as the church is getting off the ground.

And still, in spite of this, I still feel a tug to continue discerning in this path, and I will be faithful to that. Ultimately, I believe that if God calls me, then God will grace me with the strength necessary to respond, whether that be through miraculous healing, job sharing, or a setting that can work with my physical limitations. And, if this means that I am not called to church planting, then God will call me to a ministry that will be even more deeply meaningful than the path I'm on now.

I think that we often forget, as a church, that in order to accomplish truly remarkable things, we must trust in God, and we must be willing to risk: in our ministry, in our personal lives, in our finances, in our expectations, and trust that God will carry us., even if we can't see how.

This is certainly one of those times for me.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Holy Week

Every pastor-blogger would understand why I've been mysteriously absent this week- the grueling marathon commonly known as Holy Week. For laity, it is chock full of wonderful worship services, easter eggs, easter dinner, and generally a good (or at least meaningful) time all around. For pastors, it is a long endurance test, at least four services (Maunday Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Sunrise, and Easter), several sermons, high pressure, and a lot of late nights.

To round up my Holy Weeks stats:
10.5 hours driving, 3 nights getting to bed at 11:30 or later (not by choice), one prayer group, four services, three practices, 10 songs led on Easter morning, and countless cups of tea.

I am simply thankful that I've survived. Once I've recovered, I'll post something more.