It was almost month ago, when I returned home from the Wesleyan Connexion Project, that I encountered the messiness and beauty of ministry. I had been away for three days, and I was looking toward making a transition as I prepared to leave the next day for Annual Conference. The only way I feel I can describe what happened is to give a minute by minute account of what we face in the ministry. As Dick Hamilton, a retired United Methodist pastor, explained to us in a round-table discussion, we "move in and out of so many situations so fast that we have no excuse to say that what we do as pastors is boring." There is wisdom in that statement.
The best way to describe what happened on that day is simply to break down the time frame of when I pulled up to the church and when I eventually made it home.
4:00 p.m. - I arrive back at Grace Church from the Wesleyan Connexion Project at the Univesity of Indianapolis. We had a productive time with our seminarians in training.
4:05 p.m. - Before I shut the door of my car, I am greeted by a member whose family life is chaotic. The look in his eyes tells me things are not good. We talk for over twenty minutes. Finally, we have prayer in the parking lot.
4:25 p.m. - Walking into the church I meet one of our Lay Leaders. We chat and greet one another.
4:35 p.m. - I walk into my office. There are two notes on my computer telling me I need to call persons about one of our Bible Studies.
4:40 p.m. - I check my email and find a couple notes I need to address.
4:45 p.m. - The Case Worker with our Good Samaritan Ministry walks into my Study and shares with me several concerns about persons who have come to Grace to receive assistance. We talk about the steps we need to take.
5:00 p.m. - I remember I need to visit a family that is moving to Kentucky. A young couple in the Army is being transferred to Fort Knox. I travel to the home several blocks away and have prayer with the family.
5:30 p.m. - I pull into the driveway. Peggy reminds me that we have an appointment at the Franklin United Methodist Community. We head out and make our way across town.
6:00 p.m. - We arrive at the Community and have dinner with one of the residents.
7:30 p.m. - We make our way back home.
And who says ministry is boring?
I think it was C. S. Lewis, and a few others I am sure, who talked about finding God amidst the interruptions of life. Paying attention to what the Spirit is saying at all times is a discipline of the first order. God speaks out of the whirlwind of activity.
I pray that those who walk in this vocation of ministry may see the beauty of God amidst the many demands and challenges and opportunities. Who knows, we may be entertaining angels unawares (Hebrews 13:2)!