Ordination Questions

What changes has the practice of ministry had on your understanding of:
1) The “Lordship of Jesus Christ”
            Throughout my undergraduate and Seminary careers I was exposed to the idea that the early notion of Jesus Christ as Lord was a very political statement.  In the first century, to say that Jesus Christ was Lord is not only a personal conviction but was also to say that Caesar is not Lord.  To deny the Lordship of Caesar was to be against the State of Rome and to be against the State of Rome meant certain death.  Thus to proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord was to literally put your life in danger.  While American Christians today no longer have the fear of death looming over our heads when we proclaim Jesus Christ Lord, there is still a very strong theological statement being made; a statement that has become clearer and stronger to me since my practice of ministry in the local church.[1]
            Personally the Lordship of Jesus Christ has taken on a new level of intensity over the past several years.  Jesus Christ as Lord means I am aware that I am not the Lord of my life and that I am dependant upon the Grace that comes from God through Christ by way of the Spirit.  Not only am I dependant upon the Grace from the Lord Jesus Christ, but I am also very much aware of how Christ’s teachings and influence in my life change my thoughts and in many ways, dictate my actions.  For instance, since Jesus Christ is Lord then I cannot affirm the ‘lordship’ of violence or scapegoating.  I cannot affirm the ‘lordship’ of blaming victims for their situation.  I cannot affirm the use of guns and hate to resolve any problem.  Jesus Christ as Lord means that I am to use the Way of Christ to confront evil in the world.  The Lordship of Christ means I place a higher premium on the power of Love and Forgiveness.  To be honest this is a difficult position to be in while I am located in the conservative state of Texas, a state that competes each year to be the top region of the world for State executions.  The Lordship of Christ means that I have given my allegiance to mercy, even if that mercy is not popular in my context. 
            Communally, the Lordship of Jesus Christ has also taken a new level of intensity over the past several years.  For instance, I have found that to proclaim Christ as Lord is to also call into question some of the social norms and mores of our community.  Thus worship on Sunday may not be dedicated to “feeling good” or primarily focused on creating ‘nice citizens’ who do not disrupt the peace.  Rather the proclamation of Jesus as Lord means that worship is first and foremost about God and God’s action in the world in Jesus Christ by way of the Spirit.  This sometimes leads to a prophetic call to action or a contemplative posture of silence, neither of which necessarily fosters ‘nice citizens’.  When Jesus Christ is Lord on a community level, then we are to take seriously that sometimes we will be counter-cultural or at the very least ‘”look different” from others.
2) The work of the Holy Spirit
            The work of the Holy Spirit was something I did not take too seriously during Seminary.  It seemed too “weird” or just not “rational” and thus could not be trusted as a reliable source of change.  Additionally the Holy Spirit was something that was reserved for the “Holy Roller” Christians and was something which was used to justify irrational behavior or downright bigotry.  However, since working in the local setting my understanding and reliance upon the work of the Holy Spirit has dramatically changed.  As odd as it seems to me to write this, I used to firmly believe that I could do everything.  Literally, I felt like with enough elbow grease, knowledge and charm I could do anything in a Church.  This was my world until the day in which it was obvious to me that I could not do much of anything on my own.  When I find a ministry or idea being stalled or obstructed, nice times out of ten it is the result of my inability to trust and rely upon the work of the Holy Sprit.  I have become patient these past several years in the local church.  I have seen people change their positions and postures by the work of the Holy Spirit.  I have even taken my trust in the Holy Spirit into worship by instituting dialogue sermons in which I allow time for personal testimony or witnessing by lay members.  Within the political structure of the Church I have found the work of the Holy Sprit to be something which continues to be a source of surprise and wonder.

[1] It is my hope that my statements will not in any way be understood as a diminishment of the sacrifice of the martyrs and Saints of the past.  However it is my hope that I might be able to understand this statement in a post-colonial and post-modern context.