Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Going back into mission mode....

Yesterday I wrote my 400th post to this blog, and today as I prepared to take my quiet time with God and the laptop keyboard to continue to reflect on how a call to new ministry, and new paths, has formed this chapter of my work in the church, I went back over some of those old posts. I will confess that the reverie had behind it the desire to revisit some memories of a trip I took several years ago with a diocesan youth trip to Guatemala. I had forgotten some of the details around the trip, some of the images...and after a conversation about that country and the people who make their lives their was done, I was missing it dearly.

So, what a gift it was to "turn back the pages" of this online diary to look at those posts. I heard with fresh ears the voice of the person and priest that I was reflecting on how profound an impact that trip had on us all. I can honestly say that mission trip changed my own sense of my call to serve as a priest to the wider church, and it has continued to shape me to this day. The lay people who continue to be passionate about the life of Christ in Solala, in Chimaltenango, in San Lucas Toliman...and the congregations who continue to mutually serve Christ taught, and teach me, so much. I was challenged there to be my own true self, to preach and speak from the root passions of my call to serve God in the Church and to remember what the call to priesthood is really all about: feeding people in word, sacrament and faithful practice.

It isn't easy to have a redirect in life. Most folks call them "midlife crises," though I posit as a priest charged with offering pastoral care to people of all ages that you don't have to be in the middle ages of life to pull off a good crisis...you just have to be willing, like Dante Aligheri was in his Divine Comedy (Hell), to admit that while getting lost on life's path you have suddenly found yourself in a darkened wood, threatened by anger, pride and fear....

So, to reflect back on that mission trip, for me, is also to look forward. God was able to accomplish many amazing things in my life, and the lives of those who went on that mission trip, and the adventure of discovery of self, call and service to Christ continues to unfold around us. I have seen boys and girls make the transition to men and women because of what they learned and saw there...and they have become very good men and women, indeed. I have seen fellow priests renew their own sense of "why I got into this racket in the first place." I have seen people become lifelong friends. What was a trip intended to help us to give to others has resulted in windfall grace to all of us. Glory to God....

...and thus a call to what will yet come to pass as God continues to make the Divine Will known to us. I now serve another church in another Diocese. I now lead another people and am called to continue to preach and point to where Christ is next calling us to serve....

In all that, I seek to apply something I learned back then and continue to strive to express now...that real service in Christ comes first from being willing to be in one place at a time, fully, completely and lovingly present to the Body of Christ as it is revealed in the here and now.

Look back at some time in your own life...a time when you discovered God in other people as you served with and alongside them...what from that time feeds you in your present journey of service?

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