Okay – it’s a calling, not a “job.” And maybe you are a talk show host or a travel writer or a the inventor of Sharpies and you believe that you have The Best Job. Lots of us can have The Best. All of us deserve to work in ways that bring joy and satisfaction and pay us a living wage. It would also be great if each of us had jobs with health insurance. (But that’s for another post on another day.)
Yesterday, May 1st was the first anniversary of my not-so-new calling in Charlotte, NC and it came on the heels of a shooting at the UNC Charlotte campus seven miles from my home. Two students died. Four additional students were shot and will recover – at least from their physical wounds.
This is what we prepare for as Mid-Council Leaders: the sudden death of a pastor, the church fire, the hurricane, the shooting of innocent people. We hope that those in the thick of the crisis will be the best version of themselves. And that’s what I witnessed yesterday.
I know of no other work that offers the variety of professional ministry. Within 24 hours I had the opportunity to
- Meet with a church leader over coffee to talk about the future of her small congregation,
- Share resources on trauma with our churches,
- Join up with a group of Presbyterians, United Methodists, Lutherans, Jews, and Muslims to stand with a college community in the face of deep grief.
- Pray with a college senior from China who slept through the shooting but wanted me to pray that his mother can leave China to attend his graduation.
- Was invited to hang out with the Hillel people to welcome Jewish students to pray.
- Talked with Muslim students about their fears and hopes as college students and specifically as brown college students who happen to be Muslim.
- Talk with a woman while picking up my BBQ take out about why the world is so crazy. (I was wearing my collar so apparently I looked like someone who might have the answer.)
Why is the world so crazy? The short answer is “sin.” The longer answer has something to do with fear, greed, ignorance, and a host of other human failures. But sometimes – even in the craziness – we get it right.
Thank you, church people who get it right. Thank you, Muslim students who are brave in the face of daily bias and racism. Thank you, Jewish neighbors who are having to make decisions about hiring armed guards to watch your synagogue doors and yet you remain kind and faithful. Thank you church leaders who bravely consider Big Changes for the sake of the Gospel.
Thank you God for allowing me to live long enough to experience all this.
Image of me in my collar. I only wear it for marches and vigils but I should wear it more often. You would not believe who wants to talk when you’re wearing a collar.