On Sunday, the Feast of Pentecost, we’ll celebrate the giving of the Holy Spirit to the Church. We’ll recognize that the Holy Spirit poured out on the apostles on that day is given to every member of the church.
How do we recognize the gift of the Holy Spirit in us?
The Book of Common Prayer gives us a concise answer:
“We recognize the presence of the Holy Spirit when we confess Jesus Christ as Lord and are brought into love and harmony with God, with ourselves, with our neighbors, and with all creation.” (BCP 1979, 852)
The Holy Spirit’s presence in us also empowers each of us to carry out ministry in Christ’s name. We receive the gifts of God, we “pay it forward” to others. That’s ministry. Receiving from Christ’s love, giving it forward to others.
The Book of Common Prayer gives us a concise answer as to what that looks like in the life of members of the Church:
“The ministry of lay persons is to represent Christ and his Church; to bear witness to him wherever they may be; and, according to the gifts given them, to carry on Christ’s work of reconciliation in the world; and to take their place in the life, worship, and governance of the Church.” (BCP 1979, 855)
What does ministry look like in your life?
For some of you, this question may be something you’re going to sit with for a bit. Maybe you're in a time of listening to your life and discerning what it is that God has for you to do right now. It may be listening and asking God to show you. Listening happens in quiet. Sometimes it happens when you talk with others.
Your ministry may be focusing on what's right in front of you: the things you do every day. It may be your responsibilities at home, with your children, at your work. It may not mean adding anything in particular to your activities, but rather claiming your present activities and responsibility in a new way as being God's call to you right now in your life.
It may be enjoying a time of renewal and exploration of what it is you believe, enjoying some time for reflection, conversation with trusted friends and church members. It may be a time of simply coming to a deeper realization that you don't have to do anything to make God love you more; that you can simply rest in the knowledge that you're loved. Maybe you just are being given some time for enjoying that.
It may be that you're taking notice of a ministry you see happening in the church; a ministry of being an acolyte or working on the Altar Guild or Flower Guild or singing in the choir or being an usher or volunteering with Family Promise or working on the grounds crew that comes here on Mondays to maintain the gardens around the church. It may be helping with Godly Play or any number of the multitude of things that people do around here. Yours may be a ministry of hospitality connected with serving food at receptions for funerals or other church events. You may have a ministry of helping put on coffee hours. I can help connect you. So can the other clergy.
The list above is partial. There are a lot of ministries going on!
Some ministries of the church, like Eucharistic Minister (those people who dress up in white albs and help serve communion) are approached through the rector or one of the clergy; who will talk with you about what is entailed in preparation to be licensed for that ministry. For those ministries, a recommendation is needed.
Being an acolyte (on Sundays, dressing in an alb and helping with the service by carrying a torch in the processions), is a little easier ministry to get into, as it doesn't require anything more than some training and a commitment to show up when scheduled.
Some ministries, like those with children and youth, have special qualifications that must be met through a background check and screening and special training. Our Children's Ministry Director and Youth Director are in charge of assembling teams to do that work.
It may be that you're noting something that you can offer which isn't being done presently. Let us know if that's the case. Perhaps there’s a way you can help us do something with you.
I speak so far of ministries within the church community. Your ministry focus may be outside the boundaries of the life of the congregation, out there in the community. It may be a particular way of living into your job or occupation in a renewed way. It may be a focus on your work, “carrying out Christ’s ministry of reconciliation in the world.” That may mean doing your work with intentionality, with concern for excellence, with a concern for how it contributes to the general welfare. It may mean a change in your vocation toward what you really feel called to do.
In any case, I just wanted to say that baptism is a call to ministry. That's fundamental.
And your call to ministry is - as Frederick Buechner put it so well: "Where your deep gladness and the world's hunger meet."
Blessings on your discernment as to how God is calling you to ministry. Let us know how we can help.