On Sunday our worship featured the ordination and installation of officers. This service always thrills me, for it makes explicit our belief that the church’s ministry is God’s gift, not our work. As elders laid hands on those being ordained as deacons or elders, we prayed for God to endow these servants with the Spirit of Jesus Christ, the Lord of the Church. As earnest and faithful as each of these officers is, their character, talents, and experience are not the necessary component to their ministry: Christ’s Spirit is.
I was blessed to be reminded of this fundamental fact even more vividly the week before, when these officers-elect were examined by the Session. We invited each new officer to share a brief testimony of his or her Christian faith and call to ministry. This season of fresh witness blessed us all, each speaker unveiling a view of God’s gracious reclamation in the landscape of his or her life. These witnesses mapped out the turning points in their lives—away from self-directed living toward God’s purposes; through deep crises and challenges that reveal each one’s incapacity for faithful living; moments of stunning discovery that, amidst the threats and danger, God’s arms are under and around us. Through laughter and tears we heard a rich variety of God’s saving ways in our lives.
Spiritual sharing in authentic community: surely this must be a necessary component for deep and lasting service in Christ’s name. When we succumb to the temptation toward superficial connection with God or others, we hinder God’s access to his desired vehicle for ministry: our selves. God made us for communion with God and each other, and in Jesus Christ he shows his desire to inhabit human existence with saving love. The deeper, healthier, and richer our communion with God and each other, the better we are as agents of Christ’s love.
Communion is not our work; rather, it is God’s gift. But we can purpose to seek this blessing and to use it well, so that our church’s life and ministry may partake as fully as possible of God’s love. For our ministry is not our own: it comes from God through the Spirit of Jesus Christ. May our life together invite this Spirit and seek Christ’s saving rule, the source of any true ministry.