Amy Jones,
Agape Coordinator
Dear God, we come to worship you today. 
We come to pray, and listen.
You always hear us. 
Help us to hear you. Amen
Scripture
Luke 9:57-62

57As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” 58And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” 59To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” 60But Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” 61Another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” 62Jesus said to him, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”
Devotional
I had a conversation this week with an Episcopal clergyperson who is really excited about some major changes his congregation is making to their building. As he described the design, he began to tell me about the kind of ministry he envisioned in this new physical plant. He is going to invite social service agencies to use the space. He’d like to have a community garden, and maybe even outdoor meeting spaces for the community. He wants their space to be a community meeting space where lots of needs are met. 

Then he laid this statement on me:
“No one should get a Master of Divinity degree,” he said (an MDiv is the standard degree most clergy pursue ahead of ordination). “What a waste of time that is!” he declared as he told me that he was pursuing a Master of Social Work. “That’s what the real work is,” he said.

I’ve often thought the same thing myself. 

For the last five or six years I have taught Bible to first year ministry students, and I’ve often had this same thought myself. Church culture has set them up to expect that theology and Bible will be important parts of doing ministry, and they are important things to understand. When the class is focused less around where Noah’s ark was last sighted or memorizing the kings of Israel in the order of their reign, some students are disappointed. They don’t immediately see the relevance of the contemporary cultural pieces we interpret alongside the Bible during class. Interpretation is the intersection of the Bible and everyday life.

Most of ministry is about meeting people where they are and leading them to discover the divine spark inside. You don’t need to go to divinity school or be a pastor to do those things. You don’t have to be ordained or know the kings of Israel by memory. You simply have to be ready to do the ministry that is right in front of you.

We sometimes hear harsh rejection in Jesus’s words to the people who want to follow him after they finish “one more thing.” Sometimes it sounds like Jesus believes they are not committed to discipleship. But I think Jesus is encouraging them to do the ministry that is right where they are. There is no hierarchy of ministry. It is not better to travel with Jesus than to do other kinds of ministry. To the person who wants to bury their father, Jesus says, “Those who mourn need to hear you proclaim the kingdom of God!” To the one who wants to say goodbye to people at home, Jesus says “You would be homesick with me. The kingdom of God is where you are, too.”

You don’t need a pilgrimage to follow Christ. You don’t need seminary to be in ministry. You don’t need an epiphany to be a disciple. You only need to love the people right in front of you.
Prayer
We overthink discipleship sometimes, God. Deliver us from feeling insignificant in our ministries. Fill us to overflowing with your divine love so that we can love the people we encounter every day. Amen
Amy Jones
Amy Jones, Agape Coordinator
Amy Jones our Agape Coordinator is an ordained deacon in the United Methodist Church. In this tradition, deacons are ordained clergy who bridge the ministry of the church with the needs of the world, and vice versa. In more than 15 years of ministry, she has worked in churches, in children and family ministry, higher education, and nonprofits. In each setting, her focus has been on matching the resources of the church with the needs of the world. Agape Community Kitchen is exactly the type of work she was called to do. 

Amy can be reached by email at: agape@westfieldpc.org.
The Presbyterian Church in Westfield continues to burn as a light in the darkness as our community weathers this fearsome storm of illness. Our reach of care continues to extend far beyond our immediate borders. You can help us make a real impact in the lives of others by joining in our work through your time, your talents, and also in the fruits of your labors.
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