Pastor’s ponderings

“Always be ready to make your defense

to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you”

(1 Peter 3:15b, NRSV)

            In recent weeks this passage has taken on a whole new meaning for me.  Sure, it coincides with our VBS theme this week, in conjunction with the Armor of God found in Ephesians 6, but right now it means so much more.  You see, two weeks ago I submit my initial application for provisional membership in the Virginia Conference.  This is the first step in full connection, or ordination as elder.  Within a few hours of submitting the application I was informed that it had been received and that I had now begun the process.  The process?  Yes, the process.  And the first step in that process was the receipt and reading of the full application packet.  Yes, I submitted an application to receive an application.  Yet, unlike the first application, which was five pages, this extended application is forty pages and requires the completion of approximately two dozen steps, including writing 50-75 pages worth of academic papers, and recording and submitting a full worship service, among many other things.  Why must all this be done?  Well, let us be reminded of that verse above – it is all about making a defense of who I am, why I feel called to be a pastor, and how I will successfully do so in the United Methodist Church.

            As I began scrolling through the list of topics on which I must write papers (there are over 30 of them!), I really had to pause and wonder – do I even know what my stance is on some of these matters, and, if so, do I know it adequately enough to defend my position in writing and before a panel review board?  Yes, brothers and sisters, even pastors sometimes doubt how strong their faith is.  I suppose that is because the world around us is so often bombarding us with other viewpoints and ideas on what we should do and/or believe.  Yet, it is in those moments that I am also reminded of another verse:

“See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the universe, and not according to Christ” (Col 2:8, NRSV).

This is my prayer – that over the next many weeks of compiling these documents, I may discern my faith clearly.  This is also my prayer for you.  As we continue to study together, may what you believe become more grounded in The Word, our Lord Jesus Christ.

                                                                        Pastor Steve

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