charged

This was the charge to the congregation
on the occasion of Marian’s ordination.

I get to charge you!
And I’ve decided to charge you
on seven counts of intent to commit faith—
seven separate counts that, in conclusion,
I will summarize in three—
which for those of you who know me brings me no small delight!

Now some of these will be admittedly redundant—
both as reminders of what you already know—
reminders of what you already do,
and also as seven separate counts,
the lines between which aren’t always absolutely clear.
All seven, in fact, seem to blend into each other. So,

First/ take for granted that God calls everyone to walk in God’s way—
to lead in God’s way. So don’t be angry,
be absolutely and utterly surprised
that anyone would seek to impose limits on God’s call.
Don’t defend that unfathomability.
Just know it in thinking about God calling everyone.
And, oh yes, live as if God calls you.
Because, of course, God does!

Second/ believe that and live as if God is with us
in the details of day-to-day life—and not passively—
not merely observing, but actively involved.
That we don’t know explicitly how—
that we can’t point to exactly when shouldn’t stop us.
It’s what we believe.
Call it a nudge.
Call it a kick in the motivational maximus.

Third/ as the people of God,
live balanced, rounded lives.
Hard these days.
But God created us in the fullness of heart, soul, strength and mind.
That all are to be dedicated to loving God
does not take away our responsibility to nurture each facet of our being.
So take walks.
Go the gym.
Be outside.
Be with kids.
Read a book about something that’s interesting,
but about which you know nothing.
Take a class.
Go on a trip.
Do what you love to do.
Now this also means pray—pray regularly.
Doesn’t matter how. Doesn’t matter when.
Doesn’t matter for how long. But don’t not pray.
Don’t shortchange what we call our relationships with God.
Don’t discount the possibilities of prayer.
Worship—worship regularly—in community.
Listen to the story of God. Tell it. Retell it. Live it.
Rest. Make sure you rest.
That’s often a hard one to fit in.
And practice the disciplines of service and giving.

Fourth/ always remember that our forward orientation is hopeful.
This is not a glass half-full mentality.
It’s not optimism.
It is rather the profound conviction that God calls us—
that God is involved in life,
and that that wholeness of our being is a part of our being with God.
That conviction is part and parcel of a greater affirmation of God:
in the beginning, God; in the end, God; and all in between, God.
That’s hopeful.

Fifth/ really wish this one were more obvious.
It should be.
Love.
It’s how people will know you are God’s.
It’s also how many people will know God. Love.

Sixth/ as members of this community of faith (or another),
support each other. Encourage each other.
Look out for each other.
Know that someone here always has your back.
Realize this is a journey no one can make alone,
and that it’s our job to help each other however we can.

Seventh/ we believe the world can be changed.
Not that it will change (we’re not talking evolution here—
gradual, inevitable change).
We’re not talking about believing that the world will change,
but that it can be changed,
and that we can be a part of that.

That’s the seven counts with which I charge you—
which to summarize in three, works like this:
live with faith,
live into hope,
and live out of love.

Now, how is all this an appropriate charge
as part of Marian’s ordination to vocational christian ministry?
How does all this help Marian in her calling?
Well, if you all are found guilty on all seven charges,
I think it might be safe to call you healthy, whole people.
And as healthy, whole people, you will be about
creating healthy, whole communities.
And that’s what Marian needs.

The more we each strive to be found guilty,
the more our community will be found guilty,
and the more we will all help each other in our intent to commit faith.
That’s what Marian needs.
That’s what we all need.

May it be so.

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