A few friends and kind readers have asked me about my plans now that I've finished my M.Th. I've been thinking about a lot of different things, but here's the outline...
I really enjoy what I do at the bookstore, and the people with whom I work. While I didn't get the marketing position I wanted, I have been given leave to plan and execute at least one author event that I've been pushing for.
The work that I do with the people of Saint Patrick's Church is very important to me, and I'm working on two long term projects in Christian education and formation.
The first project is to design a standard program of Anglican catechesis and introduction to Saint Patrick's Church. St Pat's receives a lot of interest from folks who have come from evangelical protestant denominations, and while they might have been away from the life of any church for months or years, there's still an element of "culture shock" when people are introduced to our liturgy and philosophies of ministry. While we can't make the life of our parish less weird (because we are convinced that it's weird in a good way) we can take people aside to welcome them, answer questions, and provide a basic introduction to Anglican Christianity and its peculiar grammar so that folks will have the theological tools to "read" and therefore better understand what's going on in the life of our parish. We'd like this to be a four week, informal class that we provide 3-4 times a year, as needed. I hope that after a year or two of this, we'll have some well-formed Anglo-Catholics running around the place. Ahem.
The second project is going to be less work but a lot harder: our household is getting together with some other folks in the parish to learn what it's like to share life and a common Rule together with people of different interests and demographics, but who are interested in friendship, monastic practices, and learning to love our Lord better. I'll write on that as it progresses.
Would you believe that it sounds to some folks like I'm a drifter, since I don't have a salary, a title, or an ordination planned?
I won't have a fancy title (unless Father Matthews deigns to give me one) and it's not going to be lucrative. I still have a closet full of fancy dress clothes that I'm not using at the moment. This will not put me on the fast track to the priesthood. But here's the thing: I'm not looking to be a CEO in the Kingdom of God. This is not a matter of "climbing the corporate ladder" - I'm a layman of the Church of Rwanda, so there is no bloody ladder. A friend reminded me this week that there are plenty of people in plenty of churches who have heard a call to ordained ministry, and want to get themselves put into that ontological category ASAP so they can go about the "real ministry" that they're called to do. Right here and now, however, this is the very real ministry that I'm called to do: help build the life of the Church, learn to be a better penitent, and to call other sinners to turn to Jesus and engage fully in the life of God's new Community, and participate now in the life of the world to come. I don't need to be ordained simply to do that. I'm still thinking about priesthood, but any formal process for that really needs to be on the back burners right now, because more important than any institutional process is the question of my own formation in holiness and the life of Christ's Church. Our God has much to do in and with me, and I want to bend my body such that by the time somebody lays hands on me to make me a priest, I have already been formed into the kind of man who should be a priest.
Forming character is like preparing a roast - if you try to do it fast, you end up with something other than you were hoping for.
Paul's Writing Assignment
2 weeks ago