Friday, October 15

Part I ... In which I attempt to articulate my call to ministery

I got lost at church when I was eleven. I wasn't really lost. I knew I was sitting in the Associate Minister's office. My parents didn't know that and at that time in my life, they were the ones who determine who and what were lost. It was three weeks before my Confirmation Class was going to be asked to stand in front of our congregation to confirm our baptism and become full members of the church. I had decided that I would rather not. I would rather not be confirmed in my faith. I had been reading a lot of books on the subject and I wasn't completely convinced yet. I had read about the early church, the history of how the Bible came to be. I had read about the historical Jesus and wondered what the difference between the myth of Jesus, divine human and the myths of all the other divine humans actually was. If the answer was it was because the story of Jesus was in the Bible, then I really wanted out. I was sure there was nothing remarkably sacred about the book at all.

As I sat in Associate Minister's office explaining that I had too many questions to confirm the truth of anything, he smiled and nodded his head. He totally agreed. There are a lot of questions one has to ask and the confirmation of faith is not something to be entered into lightly. Associate Minister agreed that confirming a person so full of doubt would be misguided and wrong, but then he said something else. He said that I would never not doubt. That if I was looking for a divine burning bush or a person who could explain all questions away, I was in search of the wrong thing. Associate Minister explained that doubt is the most important part of faith. Those who don't doubt their faith, their motives behind faith and what they are doing in the name of their faith are scary. He told me to think it over some more. Then he called my frantic and pissed off parents and drove me home.

That was the first time I realized that faith isn't supposed to be something you KNOW like you know two plus two is four. Faith isn't something you can memorize with flash cards or underlined in a book.

That was also the first time I ever thought about being a minister. How fun would it be to sit around and have theological and philosophical discussions every Sunday afternoon? That's not what ministers do with most of their time. It didn't take long for me to figure that one out. Ministry is a really complicated thing. A really complicated thing that involves people. I hated people. Ministry was not for me.

* As a side note, I was confirmed with the rest of my confirmation class.
**As a double side note, this is Part I of a multi-part series in which I will try to articulate why I feel that I have been called into ministry.


The Bug said...

Oh how exciting! I'm looking forward to the series.

I used to call myself Doubting Dana. Then I finally decided that I just didn't need to know all the answers, which was enormously freeing. But I think I went the other way too far & am not intellectually curious enough.

I like the answer the minister gave you - it's so true! And the scariest Christians are the ones who have no doubt & are SO SURE they're right.

Lori Anderson said...

Thank God he dots our paths with people like your associate pastor. Thanks for sharing this slice of your history.

Single and Sane said...

What a wise Associate Minister! I'm excited for you, and looking forward to the rest of the story.


Iota said...

Fascinating. Looking forward to the next installment.