My Psalm 45
An Attitude of Ministry
The two were very involved in their respective faiths. For years they helped others, volunteered in various missions with their church, joined the groups, and grew their faith. One rainy afternoon they finished their shopping for a wedding resent early and stopped at their favorite bookstore for coffee, tea, and conversation. Soon they found themselves reviewing their past religious work and present increasing dissatisfaction with their respective rectors. Suddenly one remarked: “It’s like that Friedrich Nietzsche quote – ‘It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.’ A rector’s relationship with his congregation is a marriage of sorts.”
“Nuns refer to themselves as being a bride of Christ in the Roman Catholic Church,” stated the friend, “but never have I heard a minister being referred to as the groom of the congregation.” She paused for a moment. “However, If he is, then I think mine has divorced me. Why do they have to act like they are the “Be all and End all?”
Her companion nodded in agreement. “Don’t they realize that such behavior is off-setting and turns people away? I realize they have studied and are to be our shepherds, leading us, but really, they act more like Pharisees at times. We are all ministers, so says the church, but really, what does that mean? Let’s look it up!“
Selecting a religious historical text, the first read aloud: “For centuries women have lived as either nuns or religious sisters, the first living a cloistered life of contemplative prayer in service and the latter living a life of both service and prayer. These “sisters” exist in both eastern and western traditions of Catholicism, the Anglican, Lutheran, and Orthodox Christian faiths, Jains, Buddhists, Taoists, Hindus, and various other spiritualities and beliefs. Men in religious orders were considered shepherds, gentle guides caring for their flock.”
Her friend found a copy of the Virginia Seminary Journal of 1993 and contributed comments from Verna Dozier, in a sermon delivered in 1992 at the consecration of the second woman to be a bishop in the Episcopal Church. “Listen to this,” she exclaimed. “ Dozier spoke regarding the vocation of the faithful and the two “priesthoods” within the church. ‘The Church of God is all the people of God, lay and ordained, each order with its own unique vocation, the lay order to be the people of God in the world, to witness by their choices and their values, in the kingdom of the world, in the systems of commerce and government, education and medicine, law and human relations, science and exploration, art and vision, to witness to all these worlds that there is another possibility for human life than the way of exploitation and domination; and the vocation of the ordained order is to serve the lay order, to refresh and restore the weary souls with the Body and the Blood, to maintain those islands, the institutional church, where life is lived differently but always in order that life maybe lived differently everywhere.’ “
“Wow.” Both women looked at each other and then sought a dictionary. “We still don’t have the real meaning of what a minister is, just that we all are one, in one form or another.” Selecting a favored volume, they looked up the term minister and learned that the word “minister” has its roots in the Greek writings of the Bible. It is the translation of the word “diakonos”, which translates as “a waiter, servant; then of anyone who performs any service, an administrator.” Diakonos is really a combination of two words: “dia” meaning dust and “konos” meaning thoroughly. Later the two words combined to form the root word “diajon,” and the verb “dioko”, both which meant “hasten”. When used in a sentence, the meaning became that of service, such as the dust one stirred up when hurrying to do a task or when one hasten in pursuit of performing said task. In the New Testament of the Bible, the word was one who undertook a ministry or one who administered the calling.
The first laughed. “Well, since I would say being a spouse is like being a servant at times, maybe I was right on target with the marriage metaphor.” Both laughed and her friend agreed: “In all instances, with all the derivations of the word, the actions were carried out by a servant. Thus, a minister is one who is a servant. We are to be servants of God, as His children, and to be servants to each other. None is better than another. I just wish our respective ministers had been taught that.”
A great deal of time and energy is spent by church leaders regarding declining congregations worldwide. Perhaps a more productive question to ask is not “Why are people not coming?” but “How have we served the ones we have?” “How have we shared the love to each and every member, not just the ones who write the biggest checks?” “How can I be your servant?” Hopefully, our faith and spiritual leaders will stir up the dust as they hurry to reach each and every member, calling them by name just as God knows and calls each of us – not in judgment but in love.
My Psalm 45
Wedded to you by faith, O Lord,
I sing your praises to all.
Sons, take up your duties and be of good service to all.
Daughters, spread your joy of life in all you do and to those you meet.
Worry not abou the future;
Leave the habits of old behind.
Today join we join as one for all that is to come.
Ours is to help another and not worry about self.
We put our trust in you, Lord God Almighty.
We are one in our faith, united by love.
Nothing can separate us from our God
And our faith is strengthened daily by service.
We put our faith in your calling, O Father.
We celebrate your love.