This past weekend I was in up in Fargo, ND for the Eastern North Dakota synod assembly as well as for a few interviews for first call. I was apprehensive about going because it was not only new to me, but also because it was a marker that ordained ministry is finally becoming a reality! I am a mixed bag of emotions as I am excited to be done with school (senior slide is reaching its apex), I am sad that I will have to leave my congregations, but I am also feeling confident that God is leading me into a future that will allow Emily and I to flourish as a couple, as professionals, as coaches, and also as people of God.
While I would like to think that this confidence originated in self-reflection and prayer, it did not. It came from the synod assembly where we heard keynote speakers, Bible studies, addresses from Bishop Terry Brandt and other church wide officials, worship, and more. Our theme was, "Filled with Fire, Gifted to Grow, and Sent by the Spirit." It was in all of these events surrounding this theme that I realized that indeed the Holy Spirit was stirring up within me the new creation of our baptismal identity. In my case it is ordained leadership. As I move forward along this journey I am filled with the fire of the Spirit, gifted to grow into my vocations, and sent to be God's hands, feet, voice, and presence to all of creation.
There are two Spirit filled questions I would like to share with you all that have fueled me to this state of being:
Are we called to be leaders of an institution or leaders of a movement?
Are we settled or are we sent?
Both of these are related, yet different. The first was asked to Bishop Brandt by the Chicago Area Synod Bishop Wayne Miller when Brandt asked for advice. This question forces us to ask if we are keeping alive building and traditions that have little to do with a new and changing world. It asks us if we are keeping a ho-hum status or if we are being a life changing presence, the good news of Christ. If we are the church, here and now, we need to be leaders of a movement. A movement that proclaims life and death, the good news of Christ, and the restoration of creation
The second was asked by the keynote speaker, Rev. Nancy Nyland (Director of Evangelical Mission for the Indiana-Kentucky Synod). It wonders in our leading of the church and in the life of discipleship if we are pushed outside of our contextual comforts, past our own horizons if you will, and into the world or not. It seems to me that we are indeed being sent into the groaning of creation that cries out to God in service and in love. When we find ourselves settled we must discern whether we are ignoring the Spirit's luring into the needs of creation. When we find ourselves sent we are filled with the Spirit and gifted to act.
May you find yourself filled, gifted, and sent this Easter season.