On Sunday morning, August 24, our lead pastor, Phil Waite preached on “Right makes Might” from I Peter 2:9. He began by telling of a craftsman recruited by Mennonite Disaster Service. He grumbled “why is old Milt always asked to volunteer? Couldn’t someone else close his shop and go from Kansas to Mississippi?” But when he was in Mississippi and someone asked him why he did all this he said, “because you are my brother.”
According to Waite, Milt did a priestly service by representing the God of love to a Mississippian in need and hurting. The Apostle Peter’s metaphors depict him as a living stone in a priestly house, doing a priestly service in a priestly way. As happens with Phil, he took me “Beyond the sacred page.”
On Sunday evening My Joy and I went to CMC members meeting. A major agenda was processing the recommendations of the church board in relation to pastoral staff. Lee Dengler, pastor of music and choirs and Susan Dengler, pastor of worship and music were each recalled to 5 year terms. Gwen Gustafson-Zook was called to an initial 3 year term as pastor of outreach and Christian formation. This gives our large church a team of nine pastors. Not all of them are supported full time, but together they form an efficient and formidable team.
In the CMC organizational system, commissions are extensions of the Board of Directors. The second major agenda for our meeting was to review the work of the community life ministries commission. The work of this commission, as the Old Fool perceives it, is to see that every member receives as good or better care then could be received as a member of a small church. This requires many circles of informal and formal care within the community by many equipped volunteers.
Now I better understand how it was that I received bereavement care through visits, notes, & grief booklets when my dear Rhoda left me, and who it was that organized the grief group (where I came to know and connect with My Joy) This is a small but meaningful part of the community life commission’s work. The volunteers it recruits are equipped for ministry by the pastors and in turn the volunteers strengthen and particularize the roles of the pastors.
The Old Fool’s mind is stuck on the lead pastor’s sermon of the morning and asks how this vibrant community can serve in a priestly way to the community that surrounds it. I know that the congregation reaches out in a priestly way through Mennonite Disaster Service, Creation Care, and by contributing through its budget to a variety of local service agencies. But how can we brother our neighbors and the world by approaching in a priestly way the systemic disaster in Washington without being accused of engaging in partisan politics?