Friendship and Solidarity
"I became pastor not when I was appointed but when the community actually experienced me as pastor, . . . To speak with authority comes when one speaks out of and to the collective experience."
Two images of ministry are emerging: friendship and solidarity...
"Friendship demands honesty within oneself and between each other. It demands risking from me in totally new ways. Within the congregation I am learning to be friends with people. I know that my well-guarded tendency is to say, "You fool, you'll just get burned." But vulnerability is part of friendship". ... As we explore ways to understand our relationships to others and to God, friendship suggests both the emotional intimacy we need and the mutuality, nurture, trust, and accountability that we value.
Solidarity with all who are oppressed, poor, or silenced requires that we structure our social and political commitments to expand our visions and counter our parochialisms. ...Solidarity asks us to honor the dignity of all persons and to resist any who exert power over others. Solidarity grows out of our sense of outrage at inflicted pain and unequal distribution of basic survival needs. To be in solidarity with others does not require that they become like us, but that together we give voice to all who have been silenced, so that our experiences of mutuality can be expanded and justice can truly exist.
...the image of friendship and solidarity can provide us with insight into ministry. Friendship can give us the deep emotional bonding that helps us endure, give us joy, and strengthens our building of a relational life. Solidarity channels our activity of concern into structures of accountability to and empowerment of all who are oppressed.
Lynn N. Rhodes Co-creating: A Feminist Vision of Ministry, Westminster Press, Philadelphia, 1987, pp 34, 97ff
The Priestlike Task
The ordained priest is essentially functioning on behalf of the Church. He occupies a boundary position from which he represents the Church to the world and represents to the Church an example of consistent priestly ministry. The substance of his additional responsibility is the Church. Whereas the layman can exercise a priestly ministry while not having to take much notice of the Church, the ordained priest, as a professional minister, is always also a representative of the Church and therefore cannot disown it. Like any other Christian, but with special intensity because of the demands of the context, he will offer priestly ministry to people. In addition, however he is also asked to minister as priest to the Church, standing often on its behalf at points where for various reasons the members at any moment cannot stand. Then the various facets of ministry which have been described - pastor, alter Christus, prophet, servant and priest - do coalesce. This is the vocation of the professional minister, without whom, therefore, the Church at present could not effectively work at its distinctive task.
Wesley Carr, The Priestlike Task, SPCK, London, 1985.
...it would be an ominous thing if there were no longer any pastors who helped people in their desperate questions about meaning and their perplexity in the face of the anonymous and official bureaucracy of our modern life. Concern above all for the happiness of particular people in their everyday lives is a task for the whole of the church community, but especially for its minister. In that respect the minister still remains a jack of all trades, and not someone who can hide behind his 'pastoral specialization' or his legitimate demand for the reform of the structures.
The fourfold global dynamic of the spirituality of a Christian 'community of God' in its dimensions of religious prayer and religious political action, following Jesus within the specific horizon of local situations and within the wider horizon of the world, calls for appropriate and properly equipped leaders or leadership teams. ... This limited 'pastoral team', called or accepted by the community - after the testing of their whole way of life - must, in my view, also receive the ordinatio of the church, specifically in a liturgical celebration by the community which accepts it, with the laying-on of hands by the leadership teams from its own and neighbouring communities, with an epiclesis in prayer from the whole community.
Edward Schillebeeckx, Ministry: A case for change, SCM, London, 1981
The Reformed Pastor
O brethren, write it on your study doors, or set it as a copy in capital letters before your eyes! Could we but well learn two or three lines of it, what preachers we should be!
For our general business: SERVING THE LORD WITH HUMILITY OF MIND;
our special work: TAKE HEED TO YOURSELVES AND TO ALL THE FLOCK;
our doctrine: REPENTANCE TOWARDS GOD, AND FAITH TOWARDS OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST;
the place and manner of teaching: I HAVE TAUGHT YOU PUBLICLY, AND FROM HOUSE TO HOUSE;
the object and internal manner: I CEASED NOT TO WARN EVERY ONE NIGHT AND DAY WITH TEARS.
This is it that must win souls and preserve them!
Innocency and self-denial for the advantage of the gospel: I HAVE COVETED NO MAN'S SILVER OR GOLD;
patience: NONE OF THESE THINGS MOVE ME, NEITHER COUNT I MY LIFE DEAR;
and, among all our motives, these have need to be in capital letters before our eyes: WE OVERSEE AND FEED THE CHURCH OF GOD, WHICH HE HATH PURCHASED WITH HIS OWN BLOOD. GRIEVOUS WOLVES SHALL ENTER IN AMONG YOU, NOT SPARING THE FLOCK, and OF YOUR OWN SELVES SHALL MEN ARISE, SPEAKING PERVERSE THINGS, TO DRAW AWAY DISCIPLES AFTER THEM.
Write all this upon your hearts! SEEK FIRST THE KINGDOM OF GOD.... This is it that will most effectually make easy all our labours, make light all our burdens, make all our sufferings seem tolerable and cause us to venture on any hazard in the way .... He that knoweth that he serveth a God that will never suffer a man to be a loser by Him, need not fear what hazard he runs in His cause; and he that knows that he seeks a prize, which if obtained will infinitely overmatch his cost, may boldly engage his whole estate on it, and sell all to purchase so rich a pearl!
Richard Baxter, The Reformed Pastor, 1656
Taking a long view
It helps now and then to take a step back and take the long view.
The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is even beyond our vision.
We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God's work.
Nothing we do is complete, which is another way of saying that the Kingdom always lies beyond us.
No statement says all that can be said.
No prayer fully expresses our faith.
No confession brings perfection, no pastoral visit brings wholeness.
No programme accomplishes the Church's mission.
No set of goals and objectives includes everything.
We plant the seeds that one day will grow.
We water seeds already planted knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces effects far beyond our capabilities.
We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realising that. This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.
It may be incomplete but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord's grace to enter and to do the rest.
We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master-builder and worker.
We are workers not master-builders, ministers not messiahs.
We are prophets of a future not our own.
Oscar Romero, Source unknown
I'm not a symbol
I'm not a statistic
I'm not inches in somebody's column.
I'm not admirable, but
I'm not pitiable either.
I'm simply human.
If you turned me inside out,
you'd find fury, fear, regret, sorrow
struggling with the love and the longing,
hope and wonder,
and all my neediness.
Please take these things seriously.
Don't pietize or glamorize or tivialize or sermonize.
They are the marks of my life,
gift and loss,
wound and offence.
Please respect them.
I am at odds with all that requires me to be a symbol.
I insist on being real.
Kathy Galloway, Struggles to Love, SPCK, London, 1994, px
The Arts of Ministry
When the hands that hold the host
Have plunged fingers, with seeds into damp soil,
Or swung an axe in sweat-soaked toil,
There's blessing in the cup.
When hands that break bread in remembrance
Have tenderly birthed a lamb
Or cradled an infant at midnight,
Life itself is elevated on the altar.
When the soul of a celebrant has known
The sweetness of friendship ripened on loves's vine
been duly crushed by heartbreak, flattened by aching loss,
The wine of the covenant is richly shared.
For the soot of the city,
The pain of the people.
The touch of another,
Stain the tablecloth, yet
Consecrate many hands.
By them, bread is blessed and rises,
Thus, the corpus contains
Every grain of creation, broken
In bright conspiracy - transformed.
Kathleen R. O'Toole, "Sacerdoces" from Canticles in Ordinary Time, unpublished Masters thesis, John Hopkins University, Copyright Kathleen O'Toole,1991.
Quoted by Kathleen D.Billman, Pastoral Care as an Art of Community, in Christie Cozard Neuger (Ed.), The Arts of Ministry: Feminist-Womanist Approaches, Westminster John Knox, Kentucky, 1996, p34
Feminist preaching as a ministry of resistance builds upon the foundations of weeping and confession. A preaching ministry that is deeply rooted in a commitment to bear up justice in the world in the face of what appears to be insurmountable evil is an act of resistance. It is crucial to name this kind of preaching a ministry of resistance rather than a ministry of transformation. Though a transformed world is the ultimate hope that undergirds such a ministry, if preachers listen carefully to the oppressed voices surrounding them, they will discern that the language of survival, struggle and resistance is what permeates these messages of indictment and hope, not the language of transformation.
Christine M. Smith Preaching as an Art of Resistance, in Christie Cozard Neuger (Ed.), The Arts of Ministry: Feminist-Womanist Approaches, Westminster John Knox, Kentucky, 1996, p45-6
Teaching people in communities of faith to engage in real-talk and converation is a parodoxical endeavor; it transgresses gender barriers and stereotypes. It requires listening and speaking; tolerating and critiquing; connecting with and seperating from; finding common ground and pointing out disagreements; wearing dresses but getting them dirty ; living assertively while cradling a baby doll. It is messy stuff. Dynamic, conversationally alive communities are less unified, less organized, and less cohesive than monolithic and homogeneous communities. We cannot be afraid of this and we cannot run away from such dynamism at the first sign of mess. Although destructive strife is certainly not our aim, unsettledness and creative rumbling are part of the renewal process. When we see these things happening, why do we "make commotion and weep"? Do we not know that daughter church is not dead but is about to be raised (Mark 5:39-42)? As daughter on the margins is being healed Christ is calling to daughter church, "Talitha cum." Let us get up!
Carol Lakey Hess Education as an Art of getting Dirty with Dignity, in Christie Cozard Neuger (Ed.), The Arts of Ministry: Feminist-Womanist Approaches, Westminster John Knox, Kentucky, 1996, p82
. . . as an art of shared vision.
Judith Orr, in Christie Cozard Neuger (Ed.), The Arts of Ministry: Feminist-Womanist Approaches, Westminster John Knox, Kentucky, 1996, p118
Part of being an ethicist in pastoral ministry is opening the doors in the rooms of our lives and being willing to walk into them to discover the grace and hope and judgment that may be in each. . .
... The pastor as ethicist can help these moves happen as we lean on both the pastoral and prophetic voices in our ministry. For the pastor as ethicist in parish ministry needs to be both comforter and an agent of hope. When a church is faced with the hard task of discerning the direction of its ministry, the parish ethicist can help set in motion a process (liberation) that leads the church through asking questions and seeking answers to those questions and seeking answers to those questions about its own gift and abilities.
Emilie M. Townes Ethics as an Art of Doing the Work Our Souls Must Have, in Christie Cozard Neuger (Ed.), The Arts of Ministry: Feminist-Womanist Approaches, Westminster John Knox, Kentucky, 1996, p157
Leadership in the Round ...
seeks to move away from the traditions of ordination and orders of authority of domination and to emphasize instead authority excercised in community. This does not deny the need for organization in the life of the church or for rituals of recognition of the gifts of the Spirit . The powers or gifts that God has given a local, regional, national, or international church body need to recognized and organized for the work of God's new household of justice and freedom. But these spiritual powers are not permanently indelible orders that create a superior clerical caste in the churches. In the same way that the structures of apartheid have to be dismantled if racism is to be addressed, the structures of patriarchal clericalism have to be dismantled if sexism is to be addressed in the church. Leadership will only truly be in the round when it functions to carry out the calling of Jesus Christ to make all persons welcome as they gather around God's table of the New Creation.