In the practice of ministry, I have become even more aware of God’s movement here on earth. Dr. Theodore Walker described God as that which nothing greater can be imagined and I believe this to be true. As I have ministered to and with others, I have felt the triune God walk with us. I often feel God with me when I am spending time beside hospital beds and wheelchairs that hold those in pain. I see the need for hope in the eyes of those who suffer.
I feel the longing for God’s action in the hearts of those who pray for solace. I have faith that God is as active as we will allow in our lives and when we turn away, God continues to offer us grace through God’s tears.(b) Humanity and (c) The need for divine grace The practice of ministry has hammered the need for God’s grace for all of humankind into me.
The evil that we create thwarts our own lives. We too often lose focus on our responsibility for the kingdom of God and wander down trails of our own making. This lack of attention allows us to be consumed by societal ills, greed, and self-important temporal cravings. It is only through the gift of free grace from God that we are able to return to our emphasis on the things of God; caring for one another, caring for all of creation, worship of God and the desire for the kingdom of God. If not for the availability of grace we could become lost in our bitterness and anger. One such occurrence I encountered caused me to lose my focus on ministry temporarily. On a Sunday morning just as I prepared to step into the pulpit a lady pulled me aside. It was clearly explained to me that she had been in the hospital and on death’s door. She was crushed that no one from her church had been to see her in her time of need and vented her anger on me. I’m sure you can guess the rest; she had not let anyone know that she was ill! It took much of my resolve and God’s grace to swallow this and turn to the pulpit that day. However, the next day I wrote her a note apologizing while pointing out that should she ever be in need, I am as close as a phone call but without her making the call, and God’s grace, I would always fall short of her expectations.(d) The Lordship of Jesus Christ I believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God and Human. We call this the incarnation, or that God existed within this person we call Jesus of Nazareth. Not that Jesus was partly human and partly God but that Jesus was fully human and fully God. Jesus was able to bring the reign of God to earth with all of God’s grace and yet still exhibited the traits of humanity; He got angry (in the temple), was hurt by loss (Lazarus), got tired (feeding of the 5000) and was tempted. We declare Jesus as Lord. The word Lord has little positive meaning in today’s society outside that of the Christ. We are unaccustomed to submitting to anyone or anything. We take pride in our independence and self-sufficiency but do not find true freedom until we turn our lives to Christ as our Savior. It is in this manner that we move toward our sanctification. I have found this submission to be intensely personal and an individual decision. However, I have witnessed this change in not just the people of my congregation but also those I have seen outside of church. One example would be of the elderly lady whose daughter called the church in hopes of finding some spiritual peace for her mother. The lady suffered from advanced dementia complicated by sundowners disease when she would become belligerent. I called on the lady repeatedly, listening to her rants against God for taking her husband and other children. I continued to assure her of God’s grace until she was able to speak of her loved ones as being in a better place. While maybe this is not theologically sound, it was comforting to her to release this pain to Christ. (e) The work of the Holy Spirit I have seen the work of the Holy Spirit alive in the life of my communities. In my mission work, it has always been easy to observe the Holy Spirit in the presence of a child or in the labor of a missioner whose life is being changed. That is no different today but I now also see the Holy Spirit in those who are growing. The Walk to Emmaus had resurgence in my previous appointment (partially because of my urging). Watching and participating in the changes in the lives of these pilgrims can only be described as the work of the Spirit. These Wesleyan style small groups began to spring up organically as new 4th day-ers hungered for the ongoing regeneration of that community experience. In my current appointment I can attribute the forthcoming of the Holy Spirit in the people of this congregation. The attendance here has grown by more than 10% in the first six months of my appointment. I believe it is the work of the Holy Spirit that has led to nine new members, two by profession of faith and a resurgence of presence in those who had drifted from the church. They are grasping the ideas of discipleship as their giving of their financial resources grows.