In 2010 I was ordained. Ordained as a Pastor, Minister of Religion, Reverend, or member of the clergy. Whatever you want to call it. To be ordained didn’t seem very significant actually. It didn’t change anything. I still did the same tasks, mixed with the same crowd, and cleaned the same house. I struggled for a while. Had I earned it? At one point I made the decision to just accept it. The small print says that it is indeed a spiritual gift, not of any earthly worth, but given by God in order that I might equip others.
So I began to look instead at honouring the ‘badge’. Ensuring that I represented my ‘uniform’ well. I was to spend time straining to act justly, to love mercy and to try to walk humbly (Micah 6).
Then we moved out of pastoring within a church. We planted ourselves in Vancouver. Here, my pastoral landscape is very different. I don’t serve a particular congregation. I don’t work within the walls of a church. But I have found a new parish. A new set of pews. My parish-in-ers have become more like parish-out-ers.
My pulpit became the street, the bus, my desk, my neighbourhood and anywhere I find myself with other humans.
I have called many of my old practices into question. I am like a Neurosurgeon trained in traditional surgery who now recognises that the key-hole method is the way to go. More organic and gentle. Less brutal. So I am trialling new ways of demonstrating Jesus. Some work – some don’t. Some believe me, some walk away, some grip my hand and beg me to walk with them.
I have become acutely aware that I am surrounded by a common humanity – we are all in this together. We are all God’s children – I am just fortunate enough to have been personally introduced – and somehow have sustained a robust belief in the source of that humanity – Christ. I am called to become deeply affectionate towards all of life. Called to treasure those that God has made. Wanting the best for them. This must be the Love.
The lines in the sand are faint now – I am less sure of who is in and who is out – we are all being pushed forward in this wave of life. I surely just want to point others towards hope. I want those around me to see the Jesus that I love.
I am, however, afraid of me. Afraid of my own ability to fail in this. I often turn bad. No-one is looking. My tendency is to draw those lines of judgement again. My religious bigotry lurking nearby. It’s tough. I’m still a pastor. A very ordinary one.