Happy Wednesday McReaders!
Last weekend I had the opportunity to travel to a church in Michigan that has partnered with my field site, Grace Commons. My supervisor was asked to preach as we presented a video our church created about peace. As it was transfiguration Sunday, we spoke about how Grace Commons has transformed the lives of students training to be pastors. I was asked to share my story. It went like this:
About eight days after Jesus said these things, he took Peter, John, and James, and went up on a mountain to pray. As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed and his clothes flashed white like lightning. Two men, Moses and Elijah, were talking with him. They were clothed with heavenly splendor and spoke about Jesus’ departure, which he would achieve in Jerusalem. Peter and those with him were almost overcome by sleep, but they managed to stay awake and saw his glory as well as the two men with him. As the two men were about to leave Jesus, Peter said to him, “Master, it’s good that we’re here. We should construct three shrines: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah”—but he didn’t know what he was saying. Peter was still speaking when a cloud overshadowed them. As they entered the cloud, they were overcome with awe. Then a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, my chosen one. Listen to him!” Even as the voice spoke, Jesus was found alone. They were speechless and at the time told no one what they had seen.
“I connect so much with Peter in this passage. I’ve felt like I have followed my faith sort of blindly, without much real understanding of what has been happening in it. The disciples, you might know, always seem to be a little dim – they never quite followed along with what Jesus was saying or doing. But they meant well, bless their hearts. So when Peter, dimmed even further by his sleepiness, sees Jesus shining bright with Elijah and Moses standing at his side, it’s a little more understandable why his reaction was to build three houses – although it still makes no sense to our modern context if we’re going to be honest. When I first felt called into ministry, I felt like Peter must have when he witnessed Jesus’ transfiguration. The call seemed to make sense to me in the moment, but also felt impractical and, quite frankly, pretty silly – kind of like building houses for dead glowing people appearing out of nowhere. But I answered the call still. I applied to and was accepted to McCormick Seminary. My wife and I moved half-way across the country without any clue of how this impractical call would work out. It was particularly disconcerting because I was entering a master’s program traditionally seen as a degree for pastors, and I didn’t really want to be a traditional pastor. As I completed my first year of seminary, I began to feel tugged towards a more traditional pastoral ministry. It wasn’t a very comfortable tug, either, because I didn’t really see how a traditional church would fit in with who God has created me to be. This isn’t to say I don’t love my traditional church home, but I just didn’t see how it would fit in with my call.
When the opportunity came to interview at Grace Commons for my field site, my call suddenly didn’t seem quite as dim as before, as though the lights were slowly beginning to be turned on. In the nearly six months I’ve had the privilege of serving at Grace Commons, my call has continued to become clearer and no longer seems quite so ridiculous. What has been so transformative for me is the amount of freedom and grace the community has offered me as a student. I was immediately brought in as a full partner in the ministry of Grace Commons and given the opportunity to share my ideas, to create to plan and to even shape the community, while it was simultaneously was shaping me. My experience thus far has taught me a fuller meaning of what it means to be “church,” as well has helped lift the dense fog surrounding my call and give it validation.”
For more information on McCormick’s Field Studies program, click here!
Also, if you’re curious about the video we presented in Michigan, watch below!