December 1 marks the 10th anniversary of my ordination and January 1 is ten years at Trinity. Over the next month I hope to share some reflections on ten years of ministry: what we’ve learned, what we’ve celebrated, and where we can keep growing (I use plural because ministry is more than just an individual work, it can’t be done without the support of so many others). These posts won’t be exhaustive, just an honest reflection of where my brain is at as a decade comes and goes.
Each year I try to read Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s book Life Together because it outlines a beautiful ethic for the Christian life and ministry. In the Introduction to the edition I have, it is written about Bonhoeffer, “For him Christianity could never be merely intellectual theory, doctrine divorced from life, or mystical emotion, but always it must be responsible, obedient action, the discipleship of Christ in every situation or concrete everyday life, personal and public.” There's no dividing line between faith, life, and ministry; it's all Gospel presence.
When we moved to Leader Cassy and I hoped for rooted longevity both for our young family (Abby was just 1) and for our ministry. Building connections and relationships takes time but is foundational to life together, which is why we always hoped we’d be here long term. Simply being around and intentionally joining community life has helped build mutual trust, understanding, and spiritual growth-- we’re not in the honeymoon phase or just waiting for a new pastor to do differently; we’ve seen each other at our best and worst and come through together. It is a beautiful, sometimes difficult, thing!
I’ve always attempted a simple ministry of presence (for myself and everyone), that in conversations and togetherness people would see Jesus in all we do. One of my favorite things about Leader is that this can be embodied everywhere, there’s no hiding away or escaping from each other; we live, shop, eat, and play in the same places. Some of the best spiritual discussions have happened at the ball diamonds and the post office. Pointing to Jesus in everything has always been at the forefront of what I want to be about. My prayer before I visit someone is always, “May they see Jesus through me.” One of the best ways of doing that is just by being--being in the presence of others or being the presence of Christ. It's something I struggle with as a person who likes to get things done but I look to Jesus for encouragement.
Jesus so often demonstrates an abiding presence in His ministry; not rushing about or checking off to-do lists but being fully present to the person who needs Him each moment. He in fact invites us to abide in Him and He in us (John 15:4).
I’ve tried to live this out by being present to those around me-- in my study, downtown, on Messenger, in homes. I count it as a true privilege to be welcomed into your lives as your pastor, celebrating the good and grieving in the bad. Thanks be to God for His grace as I faithfully try to live this but fail constantly (and thank you for your grace toward me as well).
As we continue to abide with each other and together in our Jesus, I thank God for our abiding presence together at Trinity and pray that it continues to grow in the years to come!
Pastor J-M shares some occasional thoughts and musings on our life together as followers of Christ. The views are his own.