Wednesday, March 14, 2012

"Words" for our salvation

(Note- I'm using Lent and Easter Wisdom from Thomas Merton as my Lenten devotional this year. I'll be blogging the journaling prompts most days.)

If we cling to immature and limited notions of "privacy," we will never be able to free ourselves from the bonds of individualism. We will never realize that the Church delivers us from ourselves by public worship, the very public character of which tends to hide us "in the secret of God's face." ~ Seasons of Celebration, p. 27

Since Lent began, what "words have you heard for your salvation?

"It's not about you"

That's not a new "word" from God by any means, but it's one that I constantly need to hear. I've been feeling a little bit guilty that I didn't "give up" something for Lent other than the time to do this devotional practice. I guess giving up coffee or alcohol or meat has a more romantic feel to it, something I can wear as a badge of honor. But that, of course, is to miss the point of Lenten fasting entirely.

The reminder that I'm getting over and over is that as much as my limited vision and massive ego would have me believe it, I am not the center of the universe. I am God's beloved child, but my purpose is to serve others. None of this is about me.

This is probably the word I need right now, because I could quite easily get a big head about being ordained this summer. In the United Methodist Church, the path to ordination as an Elder is extremely long, complicated, and taxing. I've experienced setbacks and levels of frustration and despair that I had never known before. So I suppose I have some right to feel proud that I've completed all the requirements and been approved.

But just because I have that right doesn't mean it's the best thing for me to do, especially knowing how quickly I can get a big head and start to think that it's all about me. I've gotten lots of congratulations from people, and great affirmation from those that were present during my BOMEC interviews last week. Having to work so hard to get to this stage, it would be very easy to assume that ordination is something one earns.

The words that the bishop pronounces over the person being ordained are "take thou the authority of an Elder". The word "authority" implies responsibility and high expectations that one will use their authority in the proper way.

In all the time I've served as a pastor, I've been empowered to do certain things and granted access to very intimate moments in people's lives with the trust that I can play some role in heightening everyone's awareness of how grace is present in that moment. Just as my serving has been for the glory of God and for others to grow in love and grace, so is my ordination.

I may be the one being ordained at conference this year, but, praise God, it's not about me.

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