This week the clergy of the diocese were blessed by two excellent sermons during our annual Renewal of Vows services (see photos here and here). The first was preached at Trinity Cathedral by the Rev. Christopher Craun and the second was at St. Mary, Eugene, by the Rev. Patti Hale. Chris reminded us of the joys and challenges of ordained life (and I would suggest that the lay leaders present could identify as well). At one point she noted that in the Gospel lesson it reads: “After Jesus had said this, he departed and hid from them.” Most of us leaders in the church can identify with that desire to be present to God’s people and then to retreat from them to a quiet place!
Patti told a story of someone who misheard a scripture passage in a startling and helpful way. In the passion narrative we are told of Jesus’s words to the thief who was crucified with him: “Today you will be with me in Paradise,” but what was heard was: “Today you will be with me in Paradox”! And so as Patti reminded us, we are with God daily in the paradox of a ministry both lovely and oh so challenging.
Whether you serve the church as a clergyperson or a lay leader I am sure that you have experienced, as I have, both the deep joy of being present to someone whose life is changed for the better by an encounter with the Risen Lord that you helped birth and the depth of loss, of loneliness, and betrayal that can also be a part of life in the church. The call of Jesus is not easy for those who are invited into leadership in the church but it is a blessing to behold.
Thank you to Chris and Patti for your words and encouragement and thanks to all of you who take up the mantle of parish leadership. May you be blessed this day.
May you walk the way of the cross which is also the way of life and immortality.