The transformational power of ministry
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God – what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2
We are once again at the threshold of a new program year. Our minds turn to the task of planning for our spiritual growth as a community and individually. Together we seek to know the will of God for our common life and to discern where God would have us focus our attention and resources.
Each new day brings an opportunity for God to transform and renew us, but we are especially attuned to beginnings and the excitement of making plans. There is a sense of anticipation as we share ideas and insights around planning our common life.
The work of the Holy Spirit is both in these times of stirring us to new activities and ministries and also in the slow, steady work of spiritual exercise and disciplines of piety. Christian formation is so much more than a curriculum or a calendar plan.
The daily work of transformation can sometimes seem less than inspirational. The word “discipline” does not arouse us to great excitement and can instead create feelings of resistance. Submitting to an authority greater than ourselves is not culturally popular these days.
I sometimes think of the work of spiritual exercise as being similar to the slow, steady effect of a drop of water falling onto a stone. At other times, it feels more like a sculptor taking a chisel and hammer to stony places in our spirit where we have stubbornly refused to be changed.
The difference between these examples and our own formation is that we are living stones with self-will. God calls us to participate in our own growth by placing ourselves in a posture of submission so that his work of soul crafting might be accomplished in us.
We are formed as Christians through giving ourselves over to the Creator’s hand. God calls us to a continuing process of bringing our whole self to him, so that we might in turn bring his love to the world.
There is joy in this work that the world cannot understand, and there is growth that we sometimes do not understand until those moments when we see the image of Christ in those God calls us to serve.
It is easy to hear the call for help in various ministries of the church as the voice of clergy or vestry members looking for volunteers to help carry the work of the church, but to do so is to miss the opportunity to hear God’s call in our lives.
The world says, “don’t commit,” dropping in to help when it’s convenient is enough. God says be faithful as he is faithful. The world says, “being a Sunday Christian is enough” and will add that it’s more than most manage these days. God says he wants our whole heart and to be the priority in our lives.
Ministry transforms us. The sacrifice and self-discipline ministry requires of us teaches us about the self-sacrifice and discipline Jesus Christ embraced so that we might know the depth of God’s love for us.
Yours in Christ
Mother Linda Suzanne +