December 11, 2020
“Save the church from extinction!” cry the books, consultants, webinars, and sermons. Like Old Testament prophets they plead with us to love unconditionally, befriend the poor, and acknowledge our corporate racism in order to bring about reconciliation. In short, we are to examine ourselves, acknowledge our sins, and change.
It’s difficult work, this guilt identifying and change. That’s why there are so many books, consultants, webinars, and sermons about it. As much as I pray for their success (full disclosure, I am a consultant), I have seen a brighter source of light for the future. It is the Holy Spirit’s calling of new people to ordained ministry as deacons and priests.
“New” does not necessarily mean young. These are people whose hearts were open when the Holy Spirit said, “See, I make all things new and I could use your help.”
They come from all walks of life and religious experience, or not much experience at all. They are professors and grandmothers, former Evangelicals and Roman Catholics, social media experts and prayer warriors. Their ranks represent every letter in LGBTQ and straight people too. Their skins are beautiful shades of color, some marked with tattoos and piercings.
Perhaps more often than in the past, they are new to the Episcopal church. Sermons about reconciliation and inclusion thrill and inspire them. Our liturgy and worldwide communion amaze them. They drink it all in and are moved to share this living water with others.
I see their light most vividly as I serve on the Commission on Ministry in my diocese. There I am privileged to be a part of the journey of the newly-called. We hear their stories and follow their progress through formation as deacons or priests. We pray for them as they face challenges of work-study-spiritual-family-personal balance. If you are not familiar with the work of a CoM (every diocese has one), click here.
Yes, change is difficult. Meanwhile, God is finding people to shine transformational light. In this season of Advent, let us pray for all those in process of discerning or following a call to serve in ordained ministry, especially in the Episcopal Church.