The Changing Landscape of Ministry... and it's still "ministry!"


Dale Hempen

9/27/2011

By the Rev. Dale Hempen
Associate Conference Minister
 
Many years ago, while attending a workshop in another UCC Conference, Walter Brueggemann - reflecting on the Scriptures - challenged clergy and the Church to ‘know what time it is!’ He was instructing us to know our Bibles as well as the culture and pressures of our day, to preach the correct text and interpret it faithfully.
 
If our times are “wilderness,” then God pointed to a promised land!  When in ‘captivity,’ we remember God as the foundation of our lives and the hope of a freed people!
 
For Christian Ministry isn’t simply sharing our own opinion, as wise as that may seem, it is knowing and sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ.
 
Reflecting on Brueggemann’s comments, I invite all to read the signs of the times and the Scriptures, offering these texts as a guide:
 
The Fruit of the Spirit is the best resource for me if I am simply seeking my own way, with a plumb-line that this way is of God: 
  • The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patient, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control! (Galatians 6:22)
Matthew keeps us focused where God’s eye is fixed, alerting us to live what we believe and believe what we live:
  • Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” (Matthew 25:40)
Jeremiah buys land, as a sign of hope in a time of hopelessness, instructing us not to simply be reflections of any age, but People of God/Hope:
  • "Hanamel son of your uncle Shallum is going to come to you, and say, 'Buy my field that is at Anathoth, for the right of redemption by purchase is yours. Then I knew that this was the world of the Lord.' ” (Jeremiah 32:7-8)
Finally, for me, the Apostle Paul’s words to the Romans anchors us in a “love that will not and does not let us go!” 
  • "For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  (Romans 8:37-39)
Indeed the “landscape of ministry” has changed and is changing! But, lest we forget or ignore to our own peril, we as a Church and clergy are called to the Ministry of Jesus Christ, and our particular and peculiar ministry is “in and on behalf of the United Church of Christ!”
 
 



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