Monday, July 22, 2013

Wearing the Mantle

At Annual Conference this year, one of the worship services was a Ministry Night.  The focus was, in case you can't tell from the name on ministry.  Six people were asked to share their experience in "wearing the mantle."  Each of the six people was from a different "type" of ministry -- lay, local minister, associate, provisional, deacon, and elder, and each spoke for about three minutes.  I was asked to speak as a lay person in ministry.  This is what I said:

There is a story told of a mother and her young son.  It was a dark night, and she needed the son to go to the barn to check on something.  The son looked out the door and said, “Mom, I can’t see the barn, even with this flashlight.”  She answered, “It’s OK.  Just keep walking to the end of the light.”

My name is Kim Matthews, and I am a certified lay minister in our Annual Conference.  I, and those who will follow me this evening, have been asked to speak to you about what it means to put on the mantle of ministry.

To me, wearing the mantle often means that I can’t always see where God is leading, but I have learned enough to – most days – walk to the end of the light.

I am a child of God, who on a Walk to Emmaus, heard my call to love more and trust more.  The mantle feels like grace.

I am a biologist, who spent a very sleepless night struggling with God, and who got up the next morning and applied for the position of Associate Director of the United Methodist Foundation of West Virginia.  The mantle feels frightening.

I am the Associate Director of the Foundation, and I have the opportunity to meet with churches and individuals to speak to them about ministry.   I’m asked to preach and to teach and to share with others how God works through the Foundation’s ministry.   I use gifts I have been given by God to do work that has been placed in my hands by God.  The mantle feels like joy.

I am a sinner, who every day has to decide whether to listen for God or not.  Every day I am asked to say yes to God.  Sometimes I say no.  The mantle feels undeserved.

I am a lay person in our church.  Four years ago I felt a call to pursue certification as a lay minister.  I told God that I couldn’t see where that path would lead – I couldn’t see how I could be of use to my church as a certified lay minister.  God told me to trust and obey.  God reminded me that when I do that, God does not leave me alone.  The mantle feels like the presence of God.

We are the church, and each of us – clergy and lay – has a call to God’s ministry.  What does the mantle feel like?  It’s different for each of us.  I do know this – for me, to wear God’s mantle of ministry creates in me a response of gratitude.  It is with incredible thanksgiving that I can say I am called to the ministry of God.  Each day I walk to the end of the light, and on days when I am very blessed, I am called to shine, and to be the light.

May it be so for you as well.

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