The call to serve …

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Yesterday was designated Pastor’s Sunday by my church denomination the Lutheran Church in Malaysia. And Bangsar Lutheran Church was so kind to actually celebrate it! (I was inspired to have a special Council members’ Sunday in response… hmmm ….)

Messy Christian captured our worship gathering pretty well in her post Nice day at church and DB as usual chips in with a post like this one, I Don’t Like Mondays It’s moments like these that really “energizes me” and lifts up my spirit … and reaffirms that “Hey. Saying yes to this call … was and is the right thing!” For that I’m utterly grateful to God and the community he’s placed me in to serve Him.

And yet, the reality is ministry as a pastor is not just the picture described the the two posts above. There are times when we’ll be sitting in a counseling situation where we’re not sure a positive or expected outcome will occur. Other times, there’s this constant wrestling with the ups and downs of Christians facing various inner and outer battles (from marketplace struggles to marriage pains, you name it!) . There’s also the confrontation with forms or understandings of Christianity that hurts rather than helps God’s agenda for our world (what my new blog friend Brad calls Churchianity) This is often a challenge because I know I’m called to help people in their journey to become better Christ-followers (and thus better humans). But, often the expectation the world has upon us maybe otherwise (or at least another priority). At times, after a joyous occassion I might plunge into the pain of the “other” person when they are in need. And this often happens back to back … so emotionally it’s pretty awesome. Deep down I’ve grown to accept this as a privilege (because others invite us into their lives) and part and parcel of pastoral ministry that’s often unseen by the public.

Of course, there’s a constant growth, anc challenge in my own personal journey … as before I’m a pastor, I’m first and foremost called as a Christ-follower. So, I’m a fellow pilgrim (more of walking together) as well as a pastor (maybe walking slightly ahead), the joys and pains are very personal as well … in fact being a pastor has helped me see how my Christianity though personal is not a private affair but has public dimension (which is more visible simply because of my vocation) At times, it’s hard to share how this also is the same with those who are not “pastors” or so called “full time” workers.

There’s also the more creative aspect as well … more hopeful parts … because the temptation to be “negative” or “over-cynical” is there if one dwells too much in the struggles without keeping an eye on God’s vision for humankind and the church. Stuff like the potential and possibilities of Emergent Malaysia?! brings a fresh “energy” and a kind of forward looking posture (on a broader level). The mini-concert we had in BLC re-ignited some fire that working another pastor and some likeminded young people, there’s a better chance to capture the imagination of the younger generation (starting from our local churches). Getting to know some of the friends from Luther House Chapel that visited yesterday, made me see once again the need for these kind of connections and how it may benefit the church as a whole (in fact, we’re working towards a combined worship leaders training in October). Even looking back at BLC yesterday, at those who’ve just re-affirmed their faith and baptism, and also the newly baptised … there’s a sense of hope towards what God is doing in our midst. The journey is still long indeed …!

In the past, the reigning mental model could have been “busyness” and the drive to “achieve” or be “successful”. But, today … I felt strongly … the real reigning paradigm is “a call to serve” and not just that … it’s “serving” out of the abundance of a life with God. More of an overflow I think! I end with Luther’s comment on the second article of the Apostle’s creed in the small cathechism(emphasis mine!):

He redeemed me, a lost and condemned person,
bought and won me from all sins, death and the authority of the Devil.
It did not cost Him gold or silver, but His holy, precious blood, His innocent body — His death!

Because of this, I am His very own, will live under Him in His kingdom
and serve Him righteously, innocently and blessedly forever,

just as He is risen from death, lives and reigns forever.
Yes, this is true.

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