Feb 28 – Mar 5: From Popularity to Ministry

Reading: Part II – From Popularity to Ministry (p 51 to p 70)

It has been a blessed Lenten journey thus far and I want to thank those that have enriched our book discussion with your heartfelt and meaningful sharing, in particular those who have recently begun sharing.  This week we turn our attention to Jesus’ second temptation, Peter’s call to ministry, and the disciplines of confession and forgiveness.

Knowing that we are all ministers in our own way,  you are encouraged to prayerfully consider the temptation, the question, and the discipline and to reflect on are how the truth of the Good News and the  discipline suggested by Henri may be related to your own life and spiritual journey.  I’ve included several questions that you may find helpful.  As always, to the extent you are comfortable, please share your thoughts and insights on these questions or anything you find meaningful in the reading this week.

1.  Henri tells us that his move from Harvard to L’Arche caused a significant change in his approach to ministry—from the individualistic ministry he learned during his formation and practiced as an educator, to the shared ministry that resulted from living in a close-knit community of caring and wounded people trying to live faithfully together.  Henri writes, “Jesus refused to be a stunt man.  He did not come to prove himself… When you look at today’s church, it’s easy to see the prevalence of individualism… Stardom and individual heroism… are not at all alien…” 
a)  What was it about Jesus that allowed him to reject the powerful temptation to be spectacular?
b)  What has been your experience with individualism and the tendency to stardom and heroism in your church community and its leadership?  In your own life and ministry?

2.  Henri draws our attention to John’s Gospel where Jesus gave Peter the task of ministry—that same task that we are given today.  Henri emphasizes Jesus’ intent that
“…ministry is a communal and mutual experience… We are called to proclaim the Gospel together in community.”  And he makes it more personal by writing: “The mystery of ministry is that we have been chosen to make our own limited and very conditional love the gateway for the unlimited and unconditional love of God.”
a)  How have you been chosen and called to ministry—to make your love the gateway for God?  Is your ministry a communal and mutual experience or is it more individualistic?
b) What concrete steps can you take to adopt the servant leadership mentioned by Henri and to proclaim the Gospel together in community?”

3.  In the challenging discussion of the discipline, Henri tells us that ministers must be,
“…persons always willing to confess their own brokenness and ask for forgiveness from those to whom they minister… (they are) called to be full members of their community… called to minister with their whole being, including their wounded selves.”  Yet Henri also emphasizes that for ministers to explicitly bring their own sins or failures into the pulpit or their daily ministries would be unhealthy and imprudent.
a)  Have you seen Henri’s vision of imperfect (i.e., human) ministers living as full members of the church community sharing their whole being, including their wounded selves, in a healthy and prudent way and what was the response?  What about in your life?

Thanks again to all of those sharing this Lenten journey with us.  We look forward to hearing from you this week.

May the Lord give you peace and may you feel his presence walking with you this Lent.