Wednesday, July 25, 2012

sheep in the midst of wolves

One week from today will be my first day as Assistant Rector for Mission and Youth at All Saints. While I'm excited to go back and see and work with/for people I know and love, I must admit that I'm a little nervous. It's not so much about having to get used to wearing professional clothing again or trying to figure out what to wear with a collar (somehow I don't think my usual outfit of jeans will be acceptable anymore). It's also not worrying about how badly I'm going to mess up reading the Gospel or preparing the table for the Eucharist (though the thought has crossed my mind at least once...every time I'm serving). No, what I'm really worried about is that I don't have what it takes. 

Now, before you react, hear me out.

Two nights ago I watched an episode of "Rev.", the British comedy about an Anglican priest in an urban London parish. In this particular episode, the rector is having a crisis of faith. I won't tell you how the episode goes, but I will say that it brought to mind some of the really difficult things a priest has to deal with on a pretty regular basis. Being ordained is not simply about preparing sermons, organizing youth lock-ins, and baptizing cute little gurgling babies. We also have the awesome privilege of being present with people at some really intense times, like when a parishioner is put on hospice, when a family loses their house in a fire, and when a disaster (natural or otherwise) pays the town a visit. What do you say when these things happen? 

I'm not implying that I haven't had excellent training in seminary or CPE or personal experiences of pain that I can draw from to help. What I'm saying is that I don't have what it takes to face these situations on my ownI constantly act as if I'm on my own, forgetting that God is present as well. 

In the Gospel reading for today Jesus said these words before sending his disciples out into the world: 
"When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you at that time; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you" (Matthew 10:19-20).

Sometimes it can feel like we have been sent out as "sheep in the midst of wolves" (Matthew 10:16). But even in the most difficult of times, we can take comfort in knowing that we are never truly on our own, for God is with us.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

"go ye into all the world..."

Since the 8th of July I've been in Toronto, Canada, participating in the Orientation for Global Ministry Conference, sponsored by the Canadian Churches' Forum for Global Ministries. I'm here because I am partnering with the Episcopal program called the Young Adult Service Corps (YASC). Since I am under 30, YASC is helping me participate in global mission, which is part of my position as Assistant for Mission and Youth at my church.

I will admit that I initially was not looking forward to the training, but now that it is almost done, I can honestly say that I am really glad that I came here. I have appreciated meeting people from all over the states (and Canada!) with different backgrounds, ages, life experiences, and denominations (Lutherans and United Church of Canada), while learning about what it means to be a missionary. But the most amazing thing for me has been to meet people my age who are intentionally embarking on transformational experiences. Pretty much everyone else in the conference (other than me) is going for at least one year, which is a huge commitment (how many of us would be willing to do the same?). I've written about this before, but I feel that it needs to be mentioned again: I continue to meet young adults who do not display the stereotypical attributes of laziness, apathy, and entitlement that are so often associated with my generation. Perhaps I'm merely surrounding myself with incredible people, but maybe (just maybe) the stereotype does not fit. I'm honored and humbled to be among incredible people who are discrediting the single story and adding new chapters to what it means to be a young adult today.

candid shot of YASC and other Episcopal missionaries
(photo by Jason Sierra)