Friday, May 29, 2009

Why Ordination?

I keep putting off writing the various posts swirling in my head, so here goes the first round.

Some thoughts on ordination. A couple of posts ago I basically said a lot about what led me to St. Timothy's but I haven't really outlined some of the other things swirling around ordination for me.

When I was at Fuller, I began as an MDiv student, but switched to an MA in Theology The difference in degree tracks for me was that the MDiv had more pastoral classes, but the bible/theology classes were all the same. All through my first two years at Fuller I had been pondering what kind of track I would take, a more pastoral or more academic one. My thinking when I switched degrees was that I would look into a second masters with a thesis and then on to a PhD someday. In the end, could not afford to live in LA any longer and the shorter degree was a benefit in that regard. I also was not really a part of any church or denomination for the last year or so of my time at Fuller, which made it hard to figure out how a pastoral path would work.

Since then, I have realized that my vocation does not have to live in either of these realms alone. I have also found a spiritual and church home in the Anglican Communion/Episcopal Church. If God permits me to seek ordination in that church, I believe that he will also lead me into a way of serving the church both on an academic and pastoral level. I am not interested in becoming a huge writer, popular all over the globe. Rather, at this time I find it my hope and calling to bring God's word to whatever situation and church I might end up in someday. I'm interested in finding ways to express various concepts to those in the church who have not had the blessing of theological study. Not because I have some secret knowledge that I must disperse, but rather because I hope the process would be one in which our faiths would be worked out in communion with one another. I recognize that my training thus far has been nothing short of the gift of God, and to refrain from sharing the fruits of that gift with others would be a disservice to God. Ultimately outside of the mustard seed of faith, I think it is how we live in loving communion with each other which defines us as people of God rather than a series of theological concepts; yet exploring those concepts is still a very valid and edifying process.

I must stress here that while this is in part a decision on my part, it is by no means in my hands alone. It is in the hands of the community I am seeking to know and grow in currently and also obviously at the Lord’s discretion. No matter how much I may desire to serve the Church in this capacity, I must daily bring it to the cross in order that Christ may bring it to life in the Holy Spirit. This is honestly a frightening thing. It is so because whenever we bring something to the cross to be crucified, there is the chance that Christ may not resurrect it. The refining fire of the Lord will burn away what is not of his will. So, if his will is a different path than ordination, then through my prayer life, and the communal discernment process of the ECUSA, he will make that known.

At this time, while I am eager to start the process, there are actually many steps between here and end of that journey. For starters, my focus now is on joining into the life of St. Timothy’s and just being in communion with those who worship there. This will mean getting confirmed into the church in the next year, but more importantly, it means being content with just “being” among them. If I were to approach this church as a means to an end, then I would be doing a grave disservice to them and to God. Instead of sharing life, and making room for them in mine, I would be leeching life away from them. It is my sincere prayer that I do not come anywhere near that route.

So patience, patience, patience. I know God is tugging me somewhere. I know that he has brought me to St. Timothy’s. That is enough for now.

Ok, so that I hope sort of speaks to the "why?" regarding ordination. It is not a full answer, as I don't think I will have a full answer even at the time of ordination. If I am in Christ, then I am always subject to him providing new inspiration and understanding of my calling and vocation.

Tomorrow I will explain some of the reasons why I have chosen to look into the Episcopal Church in particular.