I have just returned from an amazing trip to Alaska where I got to experience God's beauty and majesty of the wilderness and the open sky on the sea. During my travels I found some peace that I had been seeking and some rest my body desperately wanted. This was a vacation for both myself and my mother. In each port we hiked in the brilliance of what God has created and each night we got to enjoy entertainment and I had the opportunity to make some amazing new friends.
After this amazing journey, I came home ready to get back to the work my creator has called me to do.... until I tested positive for COVID. Sadly, this is one of the realities of taking a vacation anymore but at least I have had a very mild case. This unfortunately means that I must work remotely this week but I also see this as an opportunity. This is an opportunity to be solely focused on the worship and faith formation of the church, as I will not be distracted by facility problems or other issues that really should not be taking my attention away (but someone has to deal with things, and not always Fred (haha)).
As I have been going through some reflections I have, finding the want to ensure that people know they can talk to me. It has always been my goal that the people I serve through Christ know that they can talk to me about things, even if they know we may not agree on them. I strive to be someone who can care for and love others, even through disagreement, and it is a struggle at times. But I have come to find out that I am not the only minister who is experiencing struggle. In fact, some recent data on ministry is quite shocking to me (though perhaps it shouldnt be).
For the last several years (pre pandemic), there has been a struggle to find ministers in the United States. Seminaries are not producing the number of graduates need to meet the demand of retiring clergy. Some denominations have an even longer process that people must complete after seminary that also contributes to lack of people for the job. Unfortunately, this problem got even worse since the pandemic. It is estimated that approximately 42% of the number of clergy in 2020, have resigned and found other careers in the last 3 years (so this is not including the retirees). Ministry is a stressful a job, there are a lot of things to shoulders, but it is also a wonderful calling, to serve Jesus through caring for others, for challenging people to grow in their faith, to be there for people in great times of joy and great sorrow.
While the numbers may be scary, and the stress at times is great, but I love that I have been called for this work and I am excited for what is in store for the future of the Church. God/Jesus is at work in this world and we are part of a plan for the future of how the Good News is shared. Let us find joy in that and peace in knowing God is present in our lives and in our world.