A moment of contemplation for yourself or on behalf of others on everything from the life-altering to the mundane.

Prayer: A conversation with The Higher Other who lives within each of us. An invitation to vent, to re-think, to ask, and to rest.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Prayers for Lent, Day 32: Give Up, Take On, Pray

           Back when I first started talking about ministry, it was seen as something the ordained did. Lay people had no ministry at all except as they participated in the work of the institution. If you taught in the Christian education program, you had a ministry. If you taught in the public schools, you 'did time' five days a week until you could get to your ministry. When I began my second career, people would say, 'You taught school for thirty-two years; then you began your ministry.' … In my unredeemed way, I would steel myself and reply through clenched teeth, 'No, I continued my ministry.'  
                                                             ~ Verna Dozier* 1917-2006 

What is your definition of ministry?

From Webster: the body of ministers of religion :  clergy
From Dictionary.com:  1.the service, functions, or profession of a minister of religion; 2.the body or class of ministers of religion; clergy.
From TheFreeDictionary.coma. The profession, duties, and services of a minister; b. The Christian clergy; c. The period of service of a minister

         Perhaps our American Constitutional concept of "Separation of Church and State" permeates our consciousness more than we realize. According to most definitions work is work and ministry is what certain - ordained - people do for work. But are we not Christians every part of every day or does that only happen when we're in Church? How does our idea of ministry change if we are being Christ's ministers whenever and wherever we are? Maybe that seems easier if you're a teacher, a doctor, or even a bartender. Is it possible to be a minister if you're a motorcycle mechanic, house painter, file clerk, or corporate CEO? If we truly are one body in Christ with many members each with our own gifts....

Dear Chief Minister:
       I really don't want to stand on the street corner and handout leaflets, or knock on doors to proclaim You to the world. Even so, I would like to believe that I can be one of Your ministers without having to be so formal about it. Maybe I'm just being presumptuous having no special training or credentials.  So, how do I get to have a ministry?  Maybe if for today I give up the notion that only specially educated, formally trained, ordained people can be ministers, I can take on looking at the most insignificant, or the more important task as a ministry, that is, if it is something that needs to be done, I can complete it without grumbling and resentment. I can smile at someone I pass on the street. I can listen without interruption or one-upping, and let go of feeling superior to others.  I can just be a comfortable presence and accept people where they are.  I can pray to know You are with me and allow that to guide my thoughts, my actions, and my sense of being an integral part of Your One Body.  If all I do is as a minister of Christ, then perhaps I will more easily discern what I will NOT do, and, act accordingly. amen.

*Verna Dozier was a diminutive African-American woman in physical stature only. A trail-blazer in the movement of the "authority of the laity," a foremost Christian educator as a second career, author of books such as The Dream of God, The Calling of the Laity, The Authority of the Laity, and her self-directed Bible study process for lay groups: Equipping the Saints. One of her greatest gifts was making the Bible accessible to everyone by her down-to-earth discussions, sermons, lectures, articles, retreats, and her mere presence.  A master storyteller, educator, and leader, Ms. Dozier spoke with a prophetic voice. To those who knew her well she was funny and she could be quite blunt, but, she was always a minister.  She graced this world, the Church, and anyone who was fortunate enough to have met her and listened to her. But if you were not, you can still read her.

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