Monday, October 15, 2012

Take Authority...

The Life Journal Readings for today are Nehemiah 13, Malachi 1, Malachi 2, and Acts 4.

Scripture: Acts 4:19-20 (NIV)
"But Peter and John replied, 'Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God's sight to obey you rather than God.  For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.'"

Peter and John have been called in front of the Sanhedrin, basically the church board, and told to stop doing what they were doing because it was against their laws.  The Sanhedrin didn't know what to do with them, because, even though Peter and John were going against their laws, what they were doing was working.

As I stood up, after kneeling in front of them, and after they laid hands on me, I was given this charge: "Take authority as an elder in the Church to preach the Word of God, and to administer the Holy Sacraments."  It was a huge moment for me, and one that I had been working toward for nearly 12 years. 

As I think about Peter and John, and as I reflect on my own ministry, I think about the times that I have been told that I needed to be or do something different than I was because who or what I was didn't line up with the image folks had of who or what they thought I should be.

The image I have in my mind of the scene described in Acts 4 is of a group of long bearded old men in fancy robes, who have always had their way in the Church, scratching their heads and trying to figure out where they lost control of this new generation, because these two yahoos standing in front of them are actually getting things done. 

It makes me chuckle. 

It also makes me a little sad.

Right now, at 41 years old, 13 years into my ministry, I'm still one of those yahoos, and I give God thanks for that.  Some folks still look at me, and the way I do what I do, and scratch their heads thinking, "Where did we lose control?"

I know, however, that there is always the risk that I could, at some point, try to take ownership of God's Church because I have been trained, and I have been ordained, and I have the experience, and yada, yada, yada. 

God forgive me if I ever get to the place where I think my way is the only way.  I know that there will be countless other yahoos, just like me, who will have a bishop look them in the eyes someday, hand them a bible, and say, "Take authority as an Elder in the Church to preach the Word of God, and to administer the Holy Sacraments."  And that, whether I understand their ways or not, they will have the gifts and graces to do greater things for the kingdom.

O God, who calls and strengthens us, remind me of the gifts for ministry that you have given all of us, and when I see someone who is doing something different than I, teach me to celebrate with them the fact that they may be reaching people that I cannot.  Amen.


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