This week I am the 79th General Convention of The Episcopal Church. This is my first convention and already – half-way in – it has been a wild and wonderful ride. One of the things that gets talked about a lot at convention are the inequalities between the ordained and unordained leaders of our church. About the worth of ones vocation. I have been thinking a lot about these things recently, in part because of my work for Baptized for Life.
“It seems to me that much of the proper work of the church and spirituality should be discerning and empowering people’s actual gifts. There doesn’t seem to be much discernment of gifts, even in seminaries, as to whether one really has a gift for Christian leadership, reconciling, healing, preaching, or counseling. (Most priests and pastors were ordained without ever having led a single person to love, to God, or to faith; and many do not seem to have a natural gift for this.) We seem to ordain people who want to be ordained! We can be educated or trained in offices and roles, but true spiritual gifts (charismata) are recognized, affirmed, and “called forth.” We do not create such people; we affirm and support what they are already doing on some level.” – Richard Rohr
For my tenth birthday I threw I sleepover. 20 girls came. 20 girls from different parts of my life – neighborhood, church, school, girl scouts… It was amazing. My mother, who was 7 month’s pregnant with her fourth child, made us homemade popcorn at midnight and pancakes for breakfast. For entertainment we watched a movie on the VCR my dad had rented from the grocery store, and he gave “rides” in his old fashioned desk chair, by spinning each girl until she fell out of the chair. There was also lots of hair braiding and giggling, games of M.A.S.H. played and ghost stories told. There was even some witnessing going on. As I remember it me and some of my church friends “led” one of my school friends to Christ. Of course in retrospect who’s to say if we led or pushed, witnessed, or benevolently bullied. We were 10. And Baptist. And it was the 80’s.
When I was ten my favorite things were Martha Stewart’s book Entertaining, Amy Grant’s album Unguarded, Mary Lou Retton and all things church. I was also madly in-love with Randy (er Randall) Goodgame (whose sister broke her leg falling out of tree at that aforementioned birthday party). Thankfully I believe that my adoration went unnoticed by Randy (er Randall), and we left Florida and moved to Alaska before I could suffer the humiliation of being officially rejected by someone with perfectly feathered hair.
My love for Mr. Good Hair was not the only thing I left in Florida. I also left my love of gymnastics, probably in part because I could never get past round-offs in tumbling.
But my love for Martha Stewart, (now vintage) Amy Grant, Church Work and the Work of the Church remained. In fact they remain still. Primarily the Church and the Martha parts.
Two weeks ago I was away from home working on a new AMAZING project all about vocation and baptismal identity. During the week I set tables, and gathered flowers, and led prayers, and we all told stories about how we saw the Spirit of God moving among us and through us.
“Before you tell your life what you intend to do with it, listen for what it intends to do with you. Before you tell your life what truths and values you have decided to live up to, let your life tell you what truths you embody, what values you represent.”― Parker J. Palmer,
You see, my life has always been telling me what it is about.
The Way of Love Revival was just an extension of what I have always been doing.
The Shrimp Boil was just an extension of what I have always been doing.
The words I share are just an extension of what I have always been doing.
Whether or not I ever have a collar, my vocation will always be what I have always been doing.
It will always lie in the place where gathering, organizing, celebrating, storytelling, and translation converge – in order that people may experience the deep joy of knowing and being known and loved by God and each other.