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.

Monday, March 27, 2023

Meditation Moment in Lent, Day 29: Give Up, Take On, Pray

Doubt is not the opposite of faith;

FEAR is.

- Verna J. Dozier

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 J. 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 officially ordained clergy do for work. But are we ordinary people 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 a social worker. 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, what, in even shaky Faith, is there to Fear from accepting our roles as ministers of the Gospel whatever, whenever, wherever it is that we are doing

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 to think so if I have 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 mundane, or more important task as a ministry. If it is something that needs to be done, wherever it is, I can complete it or at least contribute time and energy to it without grumbling and resentment. I can smile at someone I pass on the street. I can listen to someone without interrupting. I can just be a comfortable presence and accept people for who and where in life they are. I can serve soup, or read at the Sunday service, serve on a church vestry or council; I can learn how to do other kinds of ministry in and out of “Church.”  I can seek some training in an area of Church life that interests me. I can pray to know You are with me always and allow that to guide my thoughts, my actions, and my sense of being an integral part Your One Body.  If everything I do is in the spirit of and as a minister of Christ's Gospel, then perhaps I will more easily be conscious of what I will NOT do, and, act accordingly. amen.

*From the 1979 Episcopal Book of Common Prayer Catechism, pg 855:
Q. Who are the ministers of the Church?
A. The ministers of the Church are lay persons, bishops, priests, and deacons.

Q. What is the ministry of the laity?
A. The ministry of lay persons is to represent Christ and his Church, to bear witness to him wherever they
     may be; and, according to the gifts given them, to carry on Christ's work of reconciliation in the world;
     and to take their place in the life, worship, and governance of the Church.

**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 never met her, you can still read her.

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  1. I have been reading your messages oh guidance and spirituality each day and am spiritually moved to do the works that it expounds and am uplifted by it.. Thank you

    1. Thank you so much, Dear Ernestine, such comments are humbling and inspire me to continue in my small way to offer hope and companionship as we find our way through life together with Christ as our model, mentor, and teacher. Thank you, again for taking the time to write!

  2. Thank you Christine for sharing Bernard Dozier. We had the pleasure of meeting and hearing her at the installation of SsAM’s first rector, canon Lloyd Casson.
    I continue in reading her thoughts on Servant Leadership and a Christ lead ministry.