Ministries of Misery

So I finished my Ord exam today (whoopeee!) and am now back in that blissful state known as pure summer… which means that i finally have time to write a bit of substance.  So what has been on my mind?  Lots of things, actually.  Due to exegesis exam, for starters, my mind is focused quite a bit on questions of justice and fairness (which in turn makes me think of Rawl’s “Justice as Fairness,” a classic in modern philosophy which I practically inhaled in college).  Also due to the exegesis exam, I have been thinking a bit about hospitality.  I say this not because of the question offered in the theology exam on the christian practice of hospitality, but based upon an experience I had while turning in my exegesis exam to the Office of Ministry Studies at HDS.

The details aren’t necessarily important, but the gist of it was a question I found myself asking as I left the room-  how does one minister to others in the context of work?  Yes, it is indeed true that we all have bad days, or that it is difficult to come back into the bustle after a long and luxurious vacation, but the question remains: how?  My experience today informed my impressions about the Office of Ministry Studies in a way that made me feel unwelcomed and uncared about.  What about new people, or folks who don’t have the benefit of knowing a person well enough to see when they might be having a bad day or a rough transition back into work?

I know I was on the administration end of the same thing this summer, for it was often the case that I was tired out of my mind and conveyed precisely that message to others in my way of relating.  For me, the issue is therefore one in which I am aware of how I feel when others treat me less than hospitably, paired with a desire to not induce the same feeling in others.  I know that I am called to welcome others and to be a presence that reflects Christ, but it gets freakin’ hard when you are sick or exhausted or burnt out.  Those are the moments when I feel my most challenged (I know I am not alone!)  So how do I, as my friend Steve put it, resist the tendency to project a ministry of misery and instead maintain an air of hospitality in the face of my own demons?
It is a question I will struggle with, I am sure, my whole ministry.  Still, I put it out there… how do you (whomever you are) deal with your demons?

Observations from Ords

So ords are almost over and, as I have struggled to finish my exegesis exam, I have learned a few things and made a few observations about how they affect one’s personal life. Without further ado:

1) There is no better time to execute a complete facelift of one’s blog than while sitting in the basement of the Divinity School library thinking about a sermon outline for an ordination exam.

2) Of course now is a good time to move into a new apartment!

3) It is possible to spend TOO much time in the library… and yes, it does affect one’s tan.

4) Coffee tastes better when someone else makes it.

5) Never underestimate the procrastinating powers of a trip to the beach.

6) Ords inspire you not only to think exegetically and pastorally but to have long extensive catch-up phone calls with your family… that can’t be wrong, can it?

7) it is possible to lose all feeling in ones thumb for almost an entire week as a consequence of choosing to sit all four ords at once.

I am sure that more will follow… any other suggestions from people writing furiously out there?

When studying becomes a pleasure…

Who knew that reading Shirley Guthrie could be such a fulfilling experience?  I certainly didn’t expect studying for ords to be gratifying in most senses of the word, so it has certainly been a welcome surprise to find that the most universally recommended text for studying for ords happens to be one of the more engaging survey texts I have gotten my hands on in the past few years…. speaking of which, I find myself asking how is it possible that I have yet to come across this book after two years at Harvard Divinity School?  Do I even want to know the answer?

Ords AHH!

Shout out to all yall in the Presby world—

I am studying for ords and its getting down to the wire… and I know I am not alone in this but it is often difficult to sort out how to prepare for these things (esp when you aren’t at a presby semianry.)  So it occurred to me to ask– does anyone have suggestions for the theology and worship exams?






Reflections and retrospections

It’s my day off, and not a moment too soon.  This summer has been amazing, but also incredibly frustrating, sometimes ridiculously unbearable, and I am still trying to sort out how to make sense out of my experiences.  I have found myself in a community that is doing things that I care deeply about and doing them with courage and faith and grace even when it is difficult, but I have also experienced a sense of being on the wrong side of things– not ideologically, but more like programmatically.  As someone on the Youth Initiative staff, I have often felt that I am in BSM but not of BSM, almost a second-class staff citizen and intern in the community.  Our staff doesn’t go to staff meetings, doesn’t do supervision with Bill, doesn’t interface much with anyone that isn’t Erika or the youth themselves.  And yes, I understand that we came here to do youth stuff, but it also feels pretty cruddy to feel more like volunteers than members of this community.  

Personally, I have dealt with that feeling by finding ways to be more a part of the staff community–going to supervision on my own, attending staff meetings whenever possible, volunteering to participate in things outside the youth sphere–but this whole thing truly is a two way street (to be as cliche as possible).  I can do that all I want, but I still feel sometimes that certain staff look at me differently, or choose not to engage me on things.  It’s hard, and I hate it sometimes, but I don’t know what else to do except keep trying.  I have less than two weeks left, but I want them to count.

SPeaking of two weeks left, I also have two weeks until Ords, and I haven’t exactly studied much…. whoops.  I am trying to sneak in some quality time with my book of order today, but I have a sneaky suspicion that I might be cramming a bit after the kids leave next week.

Pray for me!