Love

I often ponder, why do I feel a call to Ministry?  Frankly, why would anyone?  Why become a Pastor in a society where Christianity is losing influence and is declining in the face of shrinking and aging congregations, often in buildings that are also aging and located in less than ideal locations?  Why be in a profession where many congregations struggle just to keep the doors open, let alone provide a livable salary for their pastor?  Why become a pastor in a society where many people have little (if any) knowledge of the Bible and what it contains, who have little or no idea of what Christianity really is about?  Why be a religious leader in a society where many (if not most) in the society we live in believe religion is obsolete and irrelevant?

The answer to all these questions is Love.

Love is an inescapable part of what makes us human.  Without love, we would loose that which makes life a journey of hope rather than of despair.  Without love, we would cease to be human.  Paul said it best (of course) in First Corinthians 13:2, “…and if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.” Love is an outgrowth of relationship: our relationships with each other, even our relationship with ourselves, and especially our relationship with Christ.

After many years of exploring many different varieties of Christianity and some other faiths, I have found that the place for me that best expresses and supports these three sets of relationships (with self, man and the Eternal) is Christianity, and especially my particular denomination, which emphasizes our individual relationship with God within the context of our relationship with our local Congregation.

So, I am seeking to become a Pastor because I am driven by love: love for others, love for my church, and love of God.  As a Pastor, I see one of my major tasks as being a conduit, or perhaps an advisor: helping others develop stronger, healthier, more vibrant relationships in all of these areas, to help them become surrounded, filled and even pouring out love. I feel this aspect of religion is very relevant in today’s world, where relationships are becoming fewer, shorter in duration, and more likely to be indirect and distant (such as through Facebook) than face to face.  Our faith in God and membership in a Community of Faith brings meaning and value to our lives; it enables us to love.  Too few people in today’s world know where to turn to fill this need we all have for relationship and love in our lives.  Too few have any idea that Faith is the answer.

In other words, being a Pastor is not about me: it’s about my faith, my congregation and my love for others.  It’s about walking together in the here and now, and in so doing, setting our feet onto the path God has set for our journey into the future; and helping others learn that this same path can be for them, too.

 

Copyright (c) 2011, Allen Vander Meulen III, all rights reserved.  I’m happy to share my writings with you, as long as you are not seeking (or getting) financial benefit for doing so, and as long as proper credit for my authorship is given (via mention of my name on your site, or a link back to this site).

A Stewardship Moment

Presented at First Congregational Church of West Boylston, 11/6/2011…

I am standing here today because of your generosity.  All of you have been very supportive and very patient with me, even when my microphone doesn’t work, or I stumble, or forget a name, or don’t see Steven sitting over there, whispering that I’m supposed to be saying something now, or perhaps George motioning for me to … sit downsit down!!

All of this is a form of stewardship, of helping me to learn and grow and explore this Odd and Wondrous profession that I’ve been called to.  But, I’ve seen Stewardship operating in so many other ways here: from serving coffee and ushering, to choir rehearsals.  From preparing Church School lessons to sitting in long meetings.  From planning for a service to wondering how best to support a local charity.  From rejoicing over the arrival of a new grandchild, to sharing in the sadness of losing a loved one.  All of this is Stewardship; and is an essential part of what being a member of the Body of Christ means.  We’re more than just an audience listening to this week’s sermon.  We work together to further the Good News here on earth, to fulfill the mission that Christ mandated for us, and to care for each other and our fellow human beings.

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