tending the flock

Sorry that I didn’t post yesterday.  I just didn’t have time.  I don’t even think I had time to tweet 140 characters yesterday, but I had one running through my mind.  Here’s what I would have tweeted:

For the 2nd time in a month, I find myself pricing a fridge for the parish. #ThingsTheyDontTeachInSeminary

The truth of the matter is that as soon as Jesus commissioned Peter to “Tend [his] sheep,” the vocation of ministry became an impossibly amazing job.  Peter didn’t have a congregation to pastor.  He wasn’t part of a denomination.  There was no mid-level judicatory for him to answer to.  Peter and the rest where just making it up as they went along: answering questions as they arose, tending to matters as they happened, crossing bridges as they came upon them.

Peter will go on to preach that God shows no partiality; that in every nation God accepts those who fear him and do waht is right. (Acts 10:34-5)  As a member of the Apostolic Succession of Peter, a fellow presbyter, an inheritor of the faith and commissioning given him on the seaside; I take the work and ministry of Peter very seriously as I try to figure out what on earth I’m doing.  Even now, almost six years into my ordained ministry, I still find myself unsure from day-to-day where the limits of God’s impartiality will take me.

Take yesterday, for example.  As my unsent tweet indicates, I spent most of the day pricing, buying, picking up, installing, and deposing of refrigerators.  It was a day filled with things that will impact the people who give to God’s glory and pay my stipend very little.  But I assure you, I felt like I was tending the flock.  This week is the sixth of six in which our Education Building has been called home by some group of people or another.  For the four main weeks of Spring Break season, college students spent a week living out of the second floor of the Education Building on alternative Spring Break trip supporting Habitat for Humanity of Baldwin County.  Last week and this, we’ve turned the upstairs into a living room, while homeless families make our classrooms into bedrooms as Family Promise of Baldwin County offers them the chance to catch their breath and move forward with hope and dignity.

Somewhere in the last 2 weeks, the refrigerator in the Ed Building break-room died.  Decked out in boots, jeans, and t-shirt; driving a truck a borrowed from my dad, a trailer borrowed from our Junior Warden’s father-in-law, and the same Junior Warden’s refrigerator dolly, I emptied the old fridge and sold the dead one for parts; bought a new one and got it ready to use.  Nobody who attends Saint Paul’s will probably ever use that fridge, but it doesn’ t matter.  What matters is that a portion of the flock, that group of people among whom God shows no partiality, i.e. the whole world, will have cold milk and lunch meat when they pack lunches and eat breakfast tomorrow morning.

I love my vocation as a priest in Christ’s one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.  I love my job as Associate Rector at Saint Paul’s Episcopal Church in Foley, Alabama.  I’m glad that Peter took the challenge that Jesus offered him over a grilled fish and grits breakfast, and I pray that my ministry might be marked by doing the work of a God who shows no partiality.


4 thoughts on “tending the flock

  1. “Peter will go on to preach that God shows no partiality; that in every nation God accepts those who fear him and do what is right. (Acts 10:34-5)” My teeth grind every time this verse is used, The word “fear” has such negative connotations and is not the correct word in Aramaic… It should be repeated as “respect” him… The Image of a people cringing and cowering in fear of their god.. is not that which the God that asked his son to give his life wants. You don’t speed on the highway because you Fear the penalty, you don’t speed because you Respect the research and scientific testing that bears out the ‘safe’ top speed.

  2. dear brother,
    I hear you so clearly, the last 2 1/2 years has taught me how much ministry church secretaries do. From the greatest to least all the tasks are ministries. You must learn faster than I do.
    blessings JST+

  3. Just wondering if buying and installing a refrigerator was in your job description. It is really amazing what you and Keith do. I stand in awe!

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