[Transcript of S3E9: For Such a Time as This, PreacHer Podcast]
Friends, we are living in a truly remarkable time. Never before has the future been so uncertain. I believe there’s not a single person alive today who has ever lived through a time such as this. The world we once knew is no more. And what better time to be dwelling in the book of Acts–a book which retells the exciting days and weeks and months after Jesus was raised from the dead and up into heaven. A book that excitedly shares the Good News that God has conquered every sickness and even death. Stories that portray ordinary and unlikely people being the ones to carry the message of Jesus to the ends of the Earth.
These people were living in unprecedented times. The teacher they spent every day learning from and traveling with and watching perform miracles–he was gone from their earthly sight. The world as they knew it had been turned upside down and was no more. And they had to figure out how to move forward. How to establish new rhythms and find their new normal.
May we find ourselves in these stories as we locate ourselves in God’s story.
In the next few weeks we will wrap up Season 3 and move right into Season 4, continuing through the exciting stories of Acts. All of that is carefully planned out, with sermons submitted and interviews scheduled.
But today, inspiration visited me. I thought I was going to write a new intro for Season 4, and ended up writing an entire episode. It feels like a bonus episode, so we’ll go with that.
Today is Palm Sunday, and on this day many years ago, Jesus mounted a donkey or two and clip-clopped into Jerusalem, greeted by crowds of people waving palm fronds and shouting “Hosanna! Hosanna in the highest!”
He was on the path that was uniquely his. There was no one who could take his place–no one who could do the work that was his to do.
And his was a painful journey. He knew the road he was on would soon lead to much suffering.
The crowds were happy to see him, they were cheering him on. They just had no idea what lay in store.
But whether the crowds were cheering or booing, he knew this was his path. Whether people were encouraging him to stay the course or telling him he had gone off the rails–he knew this was his path. Nothing could deter him.
This got me thinking about the path each of us is on, and what awaits us in the days and weeks and months ahead.
Many years ago, I used to think it was ironic or cruel when I discovered that God had gifted and called me to preach, but I found myself in a religious tradition that called for my silence.
But I believe that when God calls us to something, and we pursue that calling, God will be faithful. Even if it takes months or years or a lifetime to see it.
I used to despair that I couldn’t fully use my gifts in service of the church–or the good education and formation I had received in seminary. It felt like what started in seminary was this never-ending pregnancy. Something had been stirred and grown inside of me and I couldn’t bring it forth–wasn’t allowed to give birth to it.
While I lamented that I wasn’t allowed to preach in church, there was so much ministry I had been doing–whether informally or formally–for years, and would continue to do for many more.
I received invitations to preach at university chapel and other services, weddings and funerals. I wrote articles and taught adult Bible classes at church and religion classes at college. I spoke at conferences and sat on panels and presented papers. I preached at churches around the country and eventually, in my home congregation.
It has taken me far too long to realize that stepping outside of church ministry nearly three years ago, and then starting this podcast nearly one year ago wasn’t the “start” of creative ministry outside of a formal institution. I’ve been coloring outside the lines of the religious establishment for as long as I can remember!
All of the doors didn’t open all at once.
Although I imagined that they would have, had I been born a man. And no, I don’t wish I was born a man. But I wasted a lot of emotional energy for many years over the assumption that if I had been a man, pursuing this calling would not have been so difficult, and the opportunities would have been plentiful.
They didn’t open all at once, but they did open. One by one. Certainly, the experiences of my male friends from seminary have been different from my own. Many of them have been employed by churches continuously, preaching every Sunday. My heart used to simultaneously ache for, and be terrified of, such a life.
In fact, between you and me: I remained terrified by the thought of preaching every week until I started doing it. Every week. For this podcast.
Such is life.
At 40, I feel wiser and humbler than when I was 20. Or 25. Or 39.
I’ve been a volunteer at church and I’ve been a paid minister. I’ve been a guest preacher and I’ve preached at my home church. I’ve had seasons where my calendar is full of speaking engagements and seasons where it is not.
In seminary, I remember one of my professors talking about the role of women in our religious tradition. He shared the anguish of the difficult conversations among faculty as they discussed what to do with women in seminary. They were pained at the thought of preparing women for ministry in churches that didn’t yet exist–as in, churches that wouldn’t hire a woman. But the reality of not preparing women would nearly guarantee that those churches would never exist.
I’m so grateful they decided to teach and train and form and encourage and call out the giftedness of women in the hope–no, faith–that one day, churches would indeed hire them.
I just read the book “The Alchemist,” which is an enchanting parable – far lengthier but on par with something you might find in the Bible. One of the lessons is that when people are seeking their personal legend–seeking to find and live into the work that is theirs to do–the whole universe conspires to help them. Yes, there will be troubles and hardships and setbacks. But if you stay the course, and stay faithful, you will reach your goal. I LOVED this book and highly recommend it. It was so different from the books I typically read. But it echoed deep truths I’ve been hearing elsewhere lately.
I believe that if you are truly seeking the thing you were put on this planet to do – there comes a moment when things start to click. And you realize how you have been working toward this your whole life. And even the things that seemed like deviations or detours or distractions, even those were–in some way–leading you to this. You realize that you have been preparing for this your whole life. And you never could have imagined it when you were younger, never could have guessed all of the places and jobs and people and experiences that would fill your life.
And yet, here you are. Doing the good work that is truly yours to do. And you realize that you are exactly where you are meant to be, doing exactly what you are supposed to, for such a time as this.
I suspect that right now, we all find ourselves stretching and reaching outside of what is normal and comfortable for us. Last fall when I officially registered my business with the state of Oregon, and committed to continue teaching online college classes, I never imagined I would also be called upon to suddenly be homeschooling my four children. I expect ALL of my parent friends are raising their hands saying “SAME!” And yet, here we are. In a scary new reality but if we choose, it can also be a brave new world.
I believe we will continue to find creative ways to do our work, connect with one another, and look after the health of our planet and population. I believe we will discover and eliminate more inefficiencies, redundancies, and waste than ever before. I believe we will value teachers, janitors, health care workers, utility workers, and grocery clerks exponentially more, and figure out how to align their compensation with their contribution. I believe more of us will have the gift of remote work, flexible schedules, and more time with our people.
I believe in us as humans. In our capacity to love well, invent creative solutions, and overcome the impossible.
It’s more important than ever that we show up and do the work that is ours to do. The thing we were created for. You were created for a purpose. If you don’t know what that purpose is yet, that’s okay–the time to listen well is now.
I pray that you are in good health. May you this week be surprised by your people. As we head toward Jerusalem together and all signs indicate that it’s going to get worse before it gets better, take heart. God has overcome. We are in this together, and one day – it is going to get better.
You were born for such a time as this. May God grant you eyes to see and ears to hear, feet to move and hands to feel. A heart to serve and a mind to discern the work that is truly yours to do.
Peace to your house.
S3E9: BONUS “For Such A Time As This” with Dr. Jen Hale Christy
Sunday, April 5, 2020
PreacHer: Dr. Jen Hale Christy
Summary: Friends, we are living in a truly remarkable time. Never before has the future been so uncertain. And what better time to be dwelling in the book of Acts–a book which retells the exciting days and weeks and months after Jesus was raised from the dead and up into heaven. A book that excitedly shares the Good News that God has conquered every sickness and even death. Stories that portray ordinary and unlikely people being the ones to carry the message of Jesus to the ends of the Earth. These people were living in unprecedented times. The world as they knew it had been turned upside down and was no more. And they had to figure out how to move forward. How to establish new rhythms and find their new normal. May we find ourselves in these stories as we locate ourselves in God’s story.
I believe in us as humans. It’s more important than ever that we show up and do the work that is ours to do. The thing we were created for.
Resources + Social Media Handles:
- All of Jen Hale Christy’s Links
What to do next:
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