When we accept Gods love we become Gods love…

I am in my sixth week here in Seminole County. I have been a pastoral intern for some 42 days. I have preached six sermons, lead a few Bible studies, visited a few times to a nursing home, and have had numerous conversations with folks I am serving here.

I meditate daily on what I am supposed to learn and seek to become more aware of what it means to be a minister of the PC (USA) in the world today. Prior to arriving here I had a different understanding of what it means to minister, to pastor a congregation, and to serve the Lord.

Even after two years of seminary training I held massive amounts of information on pastoral care, congregational development, sacramental worship, theology, and zeal to serve God. I am a passionate person with many ideas of how ministry should be done. I have learned a lot about the person inside this fleshy vessel I ambulate around this world.

The most prominent thing I have learned is I need to listen more and talk less. In my experience thus far I understand that listening to people’s stories and offering a platform for them to feel important and cared for is job one for a pastor. To invest in people with a listening ear and responding with genuine interest is invaluable.

Upon listening to folks and loving on them I feel that I must then challenge them to question, think, and meditate on what faith means to them and on what it means to serve Jesus Christ. If you encounter a congregation and leave them absent of transformation it robs them of a deeper faith and opportunity to teach us (I).

The interests and understanding of my call into ministry has grown and becoming clearer everyday here in this internship. I love teaching. I look forward to the Bible studies every week. I love preparing for them and leading them. I love the questions and ideas that are exchanged in the hour or so that we gather there.

I love the prayer. I enjoy corporate prayer, praying with those that are sick, those that feel challenged, and praying for transformation in our lives. My use and understanding of prayer has evolved from a sort of magical invocation of want and desire to a moment used to align ones self with Gods will and to be transformed from the inside to proclaim to the world that there is a better way.

I love preaching. The more I have preached the more I sense a call to preach the Word in a manner that calls out the injustice in our world and directs us to become rebels of the status quo. I enjoy the process of exegesis proclamation, and discovering God at work in the world today.

I have had question about my call into ministry ever since I entered seminary. I still have questions and a part of me is seeking a way out of this process. I am scared and concerned with what my life shall bring. After a few weeks as an intern I can see myself in ministry, serving as a pastor.

I have hopes to work in a New Church Development or Redevelopment in an urban setting. I imagine a church comprised of many house churches with a common assembly on The Lord’s Day. With a posture of reaching out in a vulnerable and honest fashion to those hungry for something more.

I would say that I hold a lot of ideas from the Emerging Conversation and want to minister in a context that is different than the current Presbyterian norm. The church is dying. As a part of the church we reflect the dying nature of those things finite and depraved. The Eternal part of the church is present in God visible to us in Jesus Christ. We must be vulnerable in order to be vessels of this transition towards reconciliation. We cannot fear doing things differently.

Jesus calls us to transform in radical and challenging ways. Why do we not reflect this in our comfortable churches and congregations? Who do we love when we (me included) sit docile-like in the pews and digest the milk we are given.

This world is hungry for something more…to be loved and to love. This is evident in the media, culture, and hopes around us. There is no shortage of folks to shame themselves on TV for million dollars prizes as they search for a better life or true love.

We witness an attitude of sexual desire, a need for success, and a want to be important. What does this say about us? The underlining factor is one of love. We are estranged from God and our awareness of Gods love is clouded. This leads to a misunderstanding of what love is and where it may be found. The desire to be loved never wanes. It sticks with us no matter where we are in life.

If we can exhibit Gods love in our lives in action and deed we can become visible vessels of transformation to the hungry and clouded generations. It is this I am convinced of about ministry. When one part of creation is clouded, we all are clouded. As pastoral leaders we need to be vulnerable, honest, organic, relevant, and humble to ourselves and to each other. Henri Nouwen tells us in his book, The Wounded Healer; “The greatest ministry tool we have is our story and our wounds.”

We all have a story and we all have wounds. That is why it becomes very important to listen to others and as a pastor to be aware of our own wounds so that we may heal along with those that are healing around us. We are to use the wounds we carry as a teaching tool to show Gods grace and works in the world. What we hold deep with in our heart, all the hurt, the joy, the hopes, and the doubt lies with in the hearts of all. As pastors we are not called to be perfect or better than everyone else. We are called to be who we are, imperfect vessels seeking to bear witness to God perfect will in the world in the midst of a broken and depraved world. It is all about God…among all of the questioning and continued growth, this is what I am learning at the core of my soul. It is all about God.

3 thoughts on “When we accept Gods love we become Gods love…

  1. Renee says:

    You will be a great pastor. It’s so cool to read what you just wrote.I too, am stepping away from this intership thinking, “You know, I think I could really be a pastor…”There is still so much for me to learn, but I agree with you. It’s not that we learn so we can be complete and perfect as we pastor. We are always learning. After all, that’s what it means to be a disciple in the first place!

  2. Karen Wagner says:

    Ryan, the voices in my head say that you are awesome and that you are most certainly growing into your calling. I still say you one crazy dude!!!Love ya

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