Who Does WhatMy friend, Michael Peterson, alias The Mad Padre, commented on yesterday’s homily, More Than Meets the Eye and Visiting the Sick, to wit:
I know you're retiring soon but it is still sobering when put like this. However, in an era when some Anglican seminaries are rediscovering words like "priestcraft" (ick!) it is refreshing to hear a cleric say that the church can go on without us.I agree, the church can go on without us, but bishops, priests and deacons were created for a purpose. When we’re doing what we’re called to do properly and without taking over what other people are called to do, we help and make it better.
First, a confession: I’ve used “priestcraft” myself. It’s one of the labels associated with this blog and I’ve used it twenty-four times; but that is neither here nor there, a rose by any other name and all that…
Yesterday’s homily arose from my belief that we priests—or pastors, or whatever you want to call us—ordained persons—are not absolutely necessary, the church started without us, but we can be helpful and useful if we’re living our vocation out properly. We’re set aside to do some specific things. The purpose of the doing is to
- get God worshipped and glorified
- the Good News of Jesus proclaimed
- the power of the Holy Spirit applied, and
- the Saints equipped for the work of ministry (Eph 4.12).
- Bill Easum wrote or said something to the effect that the “pastor” is not to do all the work of ministry, but to equip the people to do it and get out of the way.
- Jerry Cook, in his book Love, Acceptance and Forgiveness; wrote that what God wants is more people in ministry who don’t know what they’re doing.
Retirement and Things…I have tried to apply those ideas over the years. Looking back, I wouldn't change that. I just wish I’d been more consistent and done it better.
Visiting the SickSpeaking of equipping the Saints—as I was looking for the title of Jerry Cook’s book in which I remembered the “don’t know what they’re doing” quote, I came across one of his talks entitled “Where You Are, He Is!” which describes what happens when Christians visit the sick, or do anything else for that matter:
You are the healing presence of Jesus. Where you are, people are healthier just because you are there.
There is a body of people whose presence is, in fact, the saving presence of Jesus Christ in the world—the Jesus that brings wholeness to every situation.
You’re the point where miraculous wholeness can happen! You may not even be aware of it!
Because you’re there the situation is more whole than it was before you got there.Amen! Something to just believe. When the people of God simply show up, much more happens than the eye can see or anyone can ask or imagine.
Cook’s talk is worth a listen:
Jerry Cook: Where You Are, He Is! from The Foursquare Church on Vimeo.