kathrynzj, over at RevGals is pondering the gifts of ministry and asks us to reflect on five:
1. walking with people in their daily lives, through joys and sorrows, offering prayers and a listening ear and heart - this work is really a privilege and feels sacred to me.
2. attending to people in their dying hours and gathering the family for prayers at the end of life, standing on holy ground, guiding them as they help their loved one labor through the process of birthing the soul from this life to the next
3. preaching, thinking through creative and engaging ways to open the Word - challenges me and helps me grow - likewise I hope others grow in their faith too.
4. baptism - I love teaching people who are preparing for baptism about the beauty and mystery of the Christian faith and why baptism is still meaningful and relevant - then I love the baptismal liturgy and the power of water and the Holy Spirit to fill the moment
5. weddings - I happen to enjoy (usually) the process of preparing a couple for marriage. I spend about 7 sessions over the course of several months working with the couple, doing some work to increase their self-awareness and other-awareness around communication, hope and expectations, fair fighting, money, intimacy over time, children, in-laws, and faith. Marriage is difficult, the least I can do is try and help people look at it with their eyes open.
Yes, I also like the rhythm of life in the congregation from the day to day and the year in and out. I like working with clergy groups and attending conferences to learn how to be a better pastor and preacher. I like working with the larger church that supports the congregation. But mostly I am just a parish priest who likes to journey with folks from birth to marriage to death...it's the stuff of life.