Preparing for new ministry…Posted: May 29, 2009
I was thinking about our new season of ministry coming up (with all its sense of frustration in the waiting) when I opened my Devotion Book to this thought from Eugene Peterson’s Living the Message.
A farm, Wendell Berry contends, is a kind of small-scale ecosystem, everything working with everything else in certain rhythms and proportions. The farmer’s task is to understand the rhythms and the proportions and to nurture their health, not bullyingly to invade the place and decide that it is going to function on his rhythms and according to the size of his ego. If all a farmer is after is profit, he will not be reverential of what is actually there but only greedy for what he can get out of it. The parallel with my parish could not be more exact. I substitute my pastoral vocabulary for Berry’s pastoral and find Berry urging me to be mindful of my congregation, in reverence before it. These are souls, divinely worked-on souls, whom the Spirit is shaping for eternal habitations. Long before I arrived on the scene, the Spirit is at work. I must fit into what is going on. I have no idea yet what is taking place here; I must study the contours, understand the weather, know what kind of crops grow in this climate, be in awe of the complex intricacies between past and present, between the people in the parish and those outside.
In preparing to move to Merredin, I must ready my heart to see and hear where the Spirit is at work. To bluster in on God’s business is careless thing. It is His farm and His crop. I am but a steward.