Over 20 years ago I was not in ministry and trying to figure out what life would be like if I never was in ministry again. I was still young enough to carve out something new, so I was reading a lot on “leadership” and “life goals”, etc.
Sitting in a bookstore I had picked up yet another “life coach” type of book and decided to work through the exercises to come up with a “life statement.” What should I be doing?
When I finished the exercises, this was my “life statement”: Equip and serve the Body of Christ.
I was out of ministry at the time, wondering if I would ever get the opportunity to be in ministry again, thinking about anything OTHER than ministry… and THIS came out! It was in the deepest part of my being and I knew I wasn’t going to shake it.
Thankfully, I was able to move back into ministry. As I did, I realized that in my place of ministry I was learning about the larger Body of Christ. The city where I pastored had a unique group of pastors who got together and loved one another across denominational lines. Get this: we loved being together.
In furthering my education I also began to see a rootedness in some traditions of the Church that I knew didn’t exist in my stream of the Church. My research in seminary took me to the Desert Fathers and I tried to utilize that research to give more depth to my own stream of the Church. While that research deepened my own walk, it did nothing for my stream of the Church. Our ecclesiology was poor and it continued to be poor.
When the Lord moved us away from our pastorate and then moved us across the country, I knew it was time to explore. Over the years I was drawn more and more to liturgy and the focus on the Table of the Lord every week.
A good friend of mine who is Catholic knew I wasn’t ready to “cross the Tiber” (become Catholic) but he knew I was on the Canterbury Trail (the road to the Anglican Church). Wisely, he sent me links to Anglican churches in the area where we were moving.
I have explored this move into the Anglican Church before and I don’t want to repeat it all here. But what I experienced over 20 years ago in that bookstore continues to beat strong in my heart. I love the Church. I love the rootedness of the Church. And the Anglican Church has become that expression that “fits” in my life as well as for my wife.
Yesterday, on Mother’s Day, on Christ the Good Shepherd Sunday, my wife and I were welcomed into the Anglican Church. It was a sacred ceremony. We had vows to affirm. With about 30 people being accepted into fellowship, the presiding bishop prayed for each one of us! I knelt before him as he laid his hands on my head and prayed:
“Strengthen, O Lord, with your Holy Spirit, your servant Dan, whom we recognize as a member of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, and receive into the fellowship of the Communion. Empower him for your service, and sustain him all the days of his life.”
I had found home. This is the place where I can best love and service the Body of Christ. I love deeply all the expressions of the Body, including the one from which I have come. It is a stream that is vital in my life and I continue to give thanks for that stream.
My passion is deeper for the Body of Christ. I may not be in “ministry” now, but I keep pursuing what is next and find ways to continue to equip and serve the Body of Christ as the Spirit leads.