"As I mused, the fire burned"

Reflection on life as a person of faith.

Discernment

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We had a significant announcement in our parish this morning, the appointment of a new priest beginning in May. I’m simply delighted (and not just because I won’t be preaching every two weeks in addition to my full-time day job!). I took a very personal interest in the process – a sign of my commitment to our community, and making sure that our new cleric would be both a good fit and a source of challenge and teaching for us. I found it a bit strange, as my interest was both clerical (could I work with someone?) but also personal (will this person help to bring me closer to Christ?). It is an interesting dual perspective, which probably reflects the nature of our community. I’m always humbled to be in the midst of so many people who take their faith walk so seriously…so I never feel like one person “doing” ministry in a group, but just one of many in the Body each carrying out our particular calling. St John’s has really brought to life, in a real way, Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 12 about the many parts of the Body. It has probably always been around me, but it seems far more real in this place. The question in my mind about new ministry seemed selfish, but then maybe it is not out of line to ask, “What part of the body will this person fulfill in our midst?”

It brings along the question of discernment for all of us, and how we are called to always be attentive to the leading of the Spirit in our lives in total. There is no proper separation of holy from secular in God’s world, and so to our vocations as Christians are made out both in our faith community and in our secular lives as well. That lamp on a stand means followers of Christ provide light within the community, but also throughout the full scope of creation, and particularly in our day jobs.

I know this has been a place of great ministry for me in the past few years. When I left full-time parish ministry by reason of the thorn in my side (or my back in my case), I thought initially I was moving into a less important role as a minister of the Gospel. Now, it is apparent that I am fulfilling a highly significant ministry in my highly secular day job, while working as a saint within the faith community as well. In some ways, this sort of ministry has about it a sense of completeness I have not experienced previously.

That completeness is a good hallmark of being in the place of calling. Without being too comfortable or too complacent, being in the right place carries with it great affirmation in the Spirit, and blessings as God continues to confirm you are in the right place and time to carry out your part of His mission. Thanks be to God for that!

By contrast, when God is preparing us for a transition, there is sometimes a sense of unease, or incompleteness about what we are involved in. A sense of yearning for that completeness, and fit, that comes with being in the place God wishes us to be. It would be easier if those transition times were announced with a Gabriel moment – a flaming sword, a heavenly chorus, and an angelic messenger that announces, “Thou shalt do…..(fill in the blank)…” (or else!)

I clearly recall my calling out of the military was preceeded with a time of intense unrest around issues of ethical integrity. I’m over much of that, but what happened was a grave injustice done to a woman that I was defending in a disciplinary hearing. A peer and former classmate of mine was the presiding officer, and he willfully ignored relevant and material contrary evidence because of his own vested interest in the organization that was involved. I assume he concluded in his own mind that it was better that one should fall, than he be required to take responsibility for the horrific lack of integrity in an organization that he was responsible for. At the time, I was left completely gob-smacked that a peer, a fellow “officer and gentleman”, would permit such an injustice to be done to one who was unable to defend themselves. I had sworn a personal oath when I first accepted command, that I would never permit such a thing to happen to anyone under my care (based on the Officer’s Code above). To see a fellow officer manage the hearing to ensure exactly that outcome caused my a great ethical conflict. I know now that this was God making use of the situation to underline for me that it was time to think about new directions (there was also a fair amount of my own woundedness involved, but that did not stop there from being clear markers of a change ahead).

It is never a sure sign, but when your soul begins to yearn for something else (and it is truly your soul, and not a broken heart seeking healing), it is always an appropriate time to start to discern the Spirit’s musings.

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Written by sameo416

February 12, 2012 at 10:08 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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