Thursday, May 27, 2010

On the Eve of Commissioning

This post comes from Nancy R. Smith, a retired deacon and now pastor of Bridgton UMC in Bridgton, Maine. 

On the Eve of Commissioning as a Permanent Deaco

Consider the pot and the potter:

On this day before commissioning
this day of enjoying friends and marking time
and observing the community in which I have become a novice
Why can’t I be still
and allow the forming
and trust the process
And let God create the opening into my inner being?

Because making a pot or vessel involves
punching and pulling
and slapping and throwing –
Long before the shaping of the inner beauty.

And sometimes the potter must scoop up
all the waste and brokenness
and pound it into a big heap
And begin again.

And so, on the eve of commissioning
I sit in awe of the process thus far
And tremble in wonder at the formation yet to come.

What are you making of me, O God?
Why did you select this process for me?
For surely your call is not so much to do, or even to serve,
As to be – or rather, to become.

--© Nancy R. Smith June 8, 2001

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Next Step on the Journey

I really related to the last post on answering God's call. Like that author, I have been on a long (10 year) journey of answering the call to Deacon. I have completed this journey in fits and starts with times of great progress and others of stagnation...and yet God has been able to use all these experiences in the past 10 years to form me into the person I have been called to be.

As I face the culmination of one part of my journey--commissioning as a Deacon on June 15th--I realized that I am just taking the first steps on the next leg of this journey. I am blessed to have work both within the local church and in a job as a healthcare provider. I say blessed because I feel convicted that, for me, it is necessary to keep my feet in both worlds. This comes with its downsides, however. Sometimes I feel that I will be pulled into splits as I wrestle with the competing demands of two jobs with two very different agendas. And yet, I see how they are connected and united.

My call, I believe, is to help others see the unifying thread. I find myself explaining to the Board of Ordained Ministry and Bishop why my job as a healthcare provider is ministry and explaining to my healthcare co-workers why I will still be working as a healthcare provider instead of working full time in the church. I believe this is a great exercise for me to articulate my ministry as a Deacon, as well as an opportunity to educate people on the ministry of the Deacon.

I also feel so blessed to have a job as Minister of Spiritual Formation where I can use my gifts to journey with people in my congregation as they struggle to name how it is that they are called to live lives of discipleship. I hear so often how people want to have a discipleship that permeates their whole lives but they are unsure where to start. As someone who remains grounded in the "secular" world of work, I pray that I will model for them one way to live this out.

So here I am at the crossroads...I have completed the first part of this next step--graduation from seminary. Now it is Ready, Set, GO...for the next part of the journey. I pray that I will be a faithful disciple and Deacon as I move forward. Amen.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Running from God

This is the first in a series of bi-weekly posts by deacons across the U.S. (and hopefully the world).
This post comes from Shannon Karafanda's blog "Until Everyone Hears" (


Running from God

Twelve years ago I got a "call from God."  I put that in quotes because until you realize you've gotten one, you really think that a call from God is a bunch of baloney. But the reality is that God talks to all of us. Some of us are just smart enough to ignore the voice in our head, others are crazy enough to talk about them and have to seek help, and some are dumb enough to just listen to what's going on.

I'm one of the dumb ones. I've followed a call that has led me to ordination this June. For most people this call doesn't take 12 years. It is possible to do this in 6, but I've been running for part of the time. I like to run. Its good exercise and builds strength and endurance.

For those runners out there, here are my tips on how to run from God:

1) Wear good shoes. You can't really out run God so you need to take care of your feet. You'll be in this for a long time until you decide to run with God and at that point I hear Jesus is into pedicures so its not as important.

2) Get plenty of rest. This is really an exhausting process so be sure to re-energize yourself each night before you get back on the hamster wheel. Of course this advice works well when you decide to give into the call, but then its called a Sabbath.

3) Drink plenty of water. Water is essential for this kind of running. It keeps your mind focused on the task at hand - running from God. Plus its Biblical. Jonah was on a boat. Noah built a boat. Peter walked on water out of the boat. Andrew cast his net from a boat. You get the picture.

So I hope you all enjoy your training either running to the call or away from it. If you need any help deciphering which one you are doing, let me know.

Shannon Karafanda is a deacon in the North Georgia Annual Conference.  She currently serves in Families & Communications ministries.