Wednesday, September 6, 2017

What does it mean to be in ministry?

The last few months at our Parish have been marked by some difficult transitions and changes.  The diocese has required that all volunteers take a program called "Protecting God's Children" before continuing and for many this was the "last straw."  Then I hear others complaining about the burden that has put on them, as they notice their name more and more frequently in the slots on the upcoming Masses.  It is definitely trying, especially for those of us who are more introverted or have busy lives to take on more and more tasks.   The problem I think that underlies all of this is we seem to think of ministry as another job, something we do.

Ministry is not something we do, it's who we are.  It's a calling first and foremost.  The Priest doesn't just take on a job, he becomes something more.  The Deacon does not just become a more involved layman, he becomes a deacon.  I would challenge that any ministry at Mass does not give us a new set of jobs, but rather reveals who God creates us to be.  Yes, I definitely know there is a difference between the ordained ministries and those of the laity.   Ordination configures us to Christ in a way that changes who we are.  Much like the bread and wine we believe is not just a symbol, but the substance is changed... ordination changes a man.  It configures him to Christ in a special way.  I am not trying to lower that concept or change it.  I believe it whole heartedly. 

What is important to note though, is that all of us are made in the image of God.  That same God who created us calls us to serve through the example of His Son, Jesus Christ.  To serve using the particular set of gifts and talents that we have been given, not to become just like someone else, but to realize who we truly are.  Being a greeter is not something you take on because you want recognition, or because you want a "job" to do at Mass... it's because you feel God calling you to use your gifts, your smile, your generous ability to praise others, the warm handshake you have always had, to be the face of Jesus as they arrive at Mass.  Lector involves using your voice, your ability to remember, and your skill full use of eloquent speaking abilities to speak the Word of God to those gathered around.  It's to be the mouth of Jesus. 

Every single ministry at Mass, and I would challenge all Christian ministries of the world, are the same thing:  they are revealing who God created us to be.  The real you.  The authentic you.  The you that Christ died for on the cross.  So no, lectoring at Mass every weekend of the month is not a burden on me, it's a privilege.  Yes, my frail humanity can be stressed by the thought of doing it constantly.  Let me do it.  It's who I am.  We need people like you.   Every single one of you that is Baptized into the body of Christ is called to serve His Body.  You have a unique set of talents, gifts, and abilities that no one else possesses in the exact formula that is you.  So don't think of this challenging ministry as something that is burdensome or tiring... think of it as an opportunity to be closer to Christ in every single way.  

Pray each and every day that God will reveal to you where He wants you to serve.  Then realize that Protecting God's children is not about you, or about the Priest, or the insurance... it's about the kids.  Are my kids worth your hour?   Don't you want to know how to make sure that whoever hurts a child gets put into a place where they can't do it again?   Then go out and join that ministry, be the person you were created to be, and realize that being in ministry does not only happen behind the doors of the Church building, but it is who you are.  It is the most authentic expression of who you were created to be, in the image of God. Special.  Unique.  Fearfully and wonderfully made.