Last week, I was approved by the credentialing body of my denomination; that is, the panel agreed that I am ready to begin professional ministry. It was really exciting, and also a moment in which I could take some time to remember my call to ministry, or why I was doing this at all.
One thing I like about the fact that we call it that is that, in a lot of ways, being called to ministry reminds me of a phone call.
It’s an important message. And for me, the important message has built up through the time of my life to be this: Theresa, there’s important work for you to do.
One of the stories I relate to in this regard is the story of Elijah. He’d just done a lot of work for God and he was tired and cranky.
And God said, “Elijah, go stand on the mountain. I’ll be there in a while.”
So Elijah went. And the very next thing that happened was a hurricane. And the rain came down and the wind blew and things shook apart and came together, and Elijah waited and did not see God in the hurricane.
The next thing that happened was an earthquake, and the rocks broke and everything moved around, and God was not in the earthquake.
The next thing that happened? A big fire on the mountain. Elijah didn’t see God in the fire.
And then, a still small voice. That’s how God showed up. It makes me laugh a little bit. I spent part of my childhood on the beautiful island of Puerto Rico. I remember hunkering down during powerful storms that would bend the trees to touch their roots. It was a fearsome thing. Naturally, I might expect that God would be found in such a display of nature’s power. But that right there is the point.God is in the business of exceeding my expectations, always being, always becoming, in moments when a store clerk slows the pace of her work to be extra kind to me. And after travel, I am back home in the Pacific Northwest. Drinking a glass of water from home reminds me of the goodness that flows beneath every circumstance. God doesn’t have to be big, doesn’t have to be loud, doesn’t always show up with fireworks. It is because God is interested in the goodness of the ordinary that there is a place for me in God’s work. Doing small things with great love is an idea mistakenly attributed to Mother Teresa. I don’t know who actually said it, but they point out the right direction.
I identify with that tiny, quiet call, inside and outside of life’s events. Big things happen. Small things happen. Still, they urge me forward to do this work. And while I relate to the Bible as a set of important stories, I also relate to the idea that we humans are the ones who are here, to do the work, to share each other’s burdens and to move justice forward.
So, I’m really grateful for all the ways that I’ve been called to this work, a special message over time that says, “Theresa, please, join the work with us.”