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Speaking to the Soul: Ministry Fatigue

Speaking to the Soul: Ministry Fatigue

Proper 3, Year One

[Go to Mission St Clare for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]

 

Today’s Readings for the Daily Office:

Psalms 31 (morning) // 35 (evening)

Deuteronomy 5:1-22

2 Corinthians 4:1-12

Luke 16:10-17(18)

It’s very easy for fatigue or disillusion to set in when it comes to ministry. Our ministries in and through our workplaces, in our homes and families, in our neighborhoods and churches, demand so much of us. Our second reading for this morning opens with a quick pep talk, reminding us that these ministries are a merciful gift: “Since it is by God’s mercy that we are engaged in this ministry, we do not lose heart.”

Can this brief re-framing of our ministries help us through today? The tasks of our various ministries are signs of God’s trust in us, and of is mercy to involve us in the lives of people around us. Before tackling our to-do’s, before facing tests of courage and patience, perhaps we can pause to remember that our ministry itself is God’s merciful gift to us.

On Wednesday, I led a brief prayer at the opening luncheon for the Arkansas Community Action Agencies Association. It would be difficult to assemble a crowd more likely to be disheartened and discouraged in their ministries. The group regularly confronts the most intractable forms of poverty and racism, even as it wrangles with a political climate that can demean and dismantle their work.

The keynote speaker, Sister Simone Campbell, delivered her own version of the encouragement in today’s Scripture passage. She reminded us that we should allow ourselves to reflect joy in our work, instead of fearing that if we’re joyful, we won’t seem serious. The group broke into smiles after Sister Simone’s permission to be joyful. What will help us turn that corner to find joy in God’s mercy as we accept the gift of our own ministries today?

Lora Walsh blogs about taking risks and seeking grace at A Daily Scandal. She serves as curate of Grace Episcopal Church in Siloam Springs and as director of the Ark Fellows, an Episcopal Service Corps  program sponsored by St. Paul’s in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

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