Friday, February 04, 2011

gifts of ministry 5

For perks of ministry friday 5, today's host, kathrynzj asks, "What are 5 perks/gifts of ministry for you?"

I'll start by disclaiming since I'm no longer serving so-called "professionally" in the church (for many reasons, but mainly because I believed not doing so was far better stewardship of my life, gifts and education) so no longer have some perks of position I took for granted, I still have a pretty severe case of ex-pastor's syndrome despite being able to affirm and rejoice in the fact that as a theologian, artist/designer and performing musician I've accomplished far more than ever I'd imagined I would. Nonetheless, parts of yesterday's ATM truly were about me, but maintaining my usual practice of not saying much in cyberspace cuz it can't be retrieved, still I'll quote from the original post and comments,
  • "Someone who was isolated and poorly supported in ways that horrify me even years later"...
  • "[try to find] Someone to help you see what is cultural, what are your issues and what is just plain absurd" and
  • "What a scar this disaster has left on your heart, soul, and confidence...but that scar is now part of who you are and in fact may in surprising ways become part of what you have to offer"
and I'm still trusting God will let me be a wounded healer to others in similar situations.

1. I've gotten = been gifted with = very well-examined theology!

2. as the witness of scripture and particularly the birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension of IX show us, I've been discovering for myself that God's most pervasive and transformational presence is not usually found in the Big Steeple Churches of this world or in Mega Music Programs (at least not until and unless they break and disarticulate to some degree) but in the margins, fringes and undersides of the conventionally politically, socially and ecclesiastically powerful where God tends to act in hidden and subversive ways. Not surprising, is it?!

3. yet in all this it has become clear to me that structures of connection and accountability are extremely important as I've looked seriously and a tad askance at renegade and otherwise more independent expressions of the church at the same time remembering the experiences and behaviors of leaders and followers in reformation, restoration and other new, emerging and non-traditional church renewal enterprises and the fact Jesus and Jesus' first followers acted and lived way far outside conventional religious structures as they redefined old norms into new normals.

4. my many many and mostly less than successful attempts to get involved at the local church level in ways somewhat consonant with my background (abilities, etc.) have been unsuccessful although for the most part I've simply responded to program and other announcements and requests in bulletins and newsletters, but I've finally given myself the designation "outsider theologian," which fits my own style and lifelong sense of self very well. The stereotype of the outsider artist is someone completely self-taught with no formal tuition whatsoever, but that's extremely rare and exceptional. Like the more typical outsider artist who has a fair amount of formal training and instruction and often a degree or certificate in fine art or design yet whose creative output generally is not within officially recognized boundaries, I'm well-educated in scripture and theology yet even with my participation in online blogging and theology conversations, I'm functioning outside of the usual ecclesiastical mainline mainstream that still consists a lot of the same usuals as in the past, but that is changing some and I'm part of the newness and renewal.

5. an ongoing appreciation for God's paradoxical Presence in Word and Sacrament... someone quoted theologian Darrell Guder's saying, "God does not limit Godself to the means of grace" and my rejoinder needs to be, "Nonetheless, God does bind Godself to the means of grace..."

bonus: Finally, I've been knowing and living far more of the time than ever before:
It is good to give thanks to the LORD and to sing praises to Your name, O Most High;
To declare Your lovingkindness in the morning and Your faithfulness by night,
With the ten-stringed lute and with the harp, with resounding music upon the lyre.
For You, O LORD, have made me glad by Your work; at the works of Your hands I sing for joy.

Psalm 92:1-4
Thanks and amen, Kathryn!