In these days between steps of the discernment process I have spent a good amount of time praying about the COM (commission on ministry). The COM is oddly something no one can quite explain to me.
Our Deacon describes his encounter with the COM as the Spanish Inquisition. Our priest says don’t prepare, pray, they’ll put me on the rack. My spiritual director suggests that sometimes he feels they (misguidely) attempt to re-discern vocation rather than strategize formation. As in they might try to make me a priest, which I feel certain is not where God is calling me today.
So it is with some fear of the unknown that I at long last have received my appointment to meet with the COM.
The funny realization that I no longer harbour any doubts about this call, and am now faced by another group who has the power to change my course makes me wonder a bit at this ordination process.
Earlier in the week, at my favorite Panera haunting ground, I was eavesdropping. Now, before you scoff at my rudeness, I tried to tune them out without success and found myself more than a little fascinated. A man and woman were discussing their church. The man was becoming a member, but had misgivings. While clearly of a different denomination than anything Anglican/Episcopalian/Catholic the woman’s pithy advice was “ignore the people and listen to God.” She went on to explain that faith isn’t rooted in people it’s rooted in a mystery which is revealed and enfolds us as we grow within it. People are just people, and they make mistakes. So his misgivings were rooted in people, and God doesn’t need him to be a member of a denomination, he needs him to be a member of the Body of Christ. All of this with the southern lilt in her voice and a spitfire intensity.
They also talked about ordination. With the same common sense tone she told him that if all he wanted was the title Reverend anyone could have it in a few minutes on the Internet. People bestow titles, God bestows calling. In essence too many people focus on the ordained part of ordained ministry, and not the ministry part.
She told him to pray with a listening heart and tune out all the noise. Focus on the message of Good News. That would tell him how to proceed.
I sat there long after the two had gone on their way. I don’t know that I agreed with everything, but I do know I needed to hear it. Because I need so much to remember to be still and know that He is God. And so I approach the COM with a calmness, which is growing stronger day by day.