MEMO FOR JAN 31
JEREMIAH 1:4-10 The Reluctant Prophet
“Then I said, Ah, Lord God! Truly I do not know how to speak, for I am only a boy...
These days I teach the first course for second career students who are entering the Course of Study at the Saint Paul School of Theology. These students are middle age and beyond. One aspect of the course is to have the students reflect on what finally brought them into the pastoral ministry. A good number of them will say “well we thought about ministry when we were sixteen, but just put it off. There was first one thing then another”. These people are in good company because in the Hebrew scriptures many of the people that God calls protest or find some excuse to stay out. Mose, Jeremiah, and Jonah to name a few, protest long and loud.
Tex Sample once told some of us that if the call is real, it will be like having to throw up. You can put it off for a time, but it will happen. I think the call to ordained ministry that is real is irresistible. That is why I some times say to students “if you can possibly stay out you should”. After all this is hard work. According to Jeremiah we are called to “pluck up and pull down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant’.
These “come lately” students are a real blessing for the church. They are eager to learn, willing to read books, and they serve in small places where hope is thin. And do you know what? They don’t seem all burned out and exhausted. And, wonder of wonders, in those tiny congregations where they are appointed, new life emerges.
Some years ago I had a student who was seventy two. She was a retired Librarian with a Master’s Degree. I asked her why she was entering the Ministry at her age, after all the COS takes about five years to complete. She said that in her little town the D.S. was planning to close the church. She told the D.S. that she would talk if the people wanted to come and listen and the D.S. was wise enough to allow that to happen. Soon the church began to grow and there were babies needing baptism and the people were asking for the Lord’s Supper so she said “I decide to come over here to get my union card punched”. Then she said to me,
, “what are you doing here?” I had just turned seventy. I said “well I suppose I am here to help you with that union card.”
The ministry of the ordained is an amazing gift from God. Why not go find a few of those sixteen year old kids and encourage them not to put the call off too long. Preach well! The Memo is now available on my blog at