MedSchoolMonday: Summer Edition

I might start my own blog, though I’m scared I might make too many people mad.  But you only go around once, right?  I like what follows.

Soooo…for the summer, this ordination process is going to take up a whole lot more time than expected.  Mind you, I’ve done everything the church has asked of me and been certified ready to be ordained.  Last year I brought the issue up with the local Committee on Ministry(which really is our Jedi Council), they talked about me but never met with me, and I never heard from them.  Apparently they missed the medical school lecture on professionalism.  So I recently brought the issue back up, again they didn’t meet with me, and their response was that since I was technically under the care of the presbytery near Columbia(where they certified me ready to be ordained), I would have to go through them since what I was doing was unique.  In other words, the dark side of the force appears to be at work, and I wonder why they didn’t bring that up last year in their non-response.  It’s almost like I’m gay or a Christian Educator or something—you know, those people who clearly don’t have any gifts that the church should validate either.  The light-sabered ones were nice enough to assign someone to me to meet with who would explain their decision and would be in contact with me.  I waited…so I contacted him on Monday—still haven’t heard anything.  Well played. 

So, for me, it’s not hard to figure out these days why the church is failing and fading, and why most young adults, even if they grew up in church, don’t really give a damn about stepping foot back in those doors.  Maybe my bible is defective, but healing seemed to be a pretty important thing to the early church and to some guy named Jesus.  I still preach in various churches about an average of once a month, amongst numerous other things related to church and healthcare that I’m involved in.  But I’m not good enough to stand behind a table and talk over bread and wine or sprinkle a little water over somebody’s head.  And correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t healthcare a small issue in our society today?  Same old church, same old story: “let’s just wait, people will come to us; there’s no need for us to let Word and Sacrament go ‘out there.’”

One of the lectionary texts this past Sunday was a story from the eighth chapter of Acts.  An angel of God told an early churchman named Philip to go out from Jerusalem, the center of ecclesiastical power, along a wilderness road, and there he happened upon an Ethiopian eunuch.  They began talking about Christianity and scripture.  The Eunuch then asked Philip as they came upon a river, “What’s to keep me from being baptized?”  Philip responded, “I’m sorry, actually my Committee on Ministry hasn’t approved me to do that kind of thing.  Bureaucracy, you see, is important for us to maintain, even at the expense of ministry.”  Note the irony of the ministry part.  No, Philip didn’t have to actually say this—but I do.     

Somebody let me know when this starts working out.  You’ll know where to find me: church purgatory.


7 Responses

  1. russ, this is AWESOME! if this is an indication of what your own blog would be like, i totally encourage it(however, consider the source-i am after all only a lowly unordained stay-at-home mom)…the idea of ordaining a physician because he is a healer, as jesus was, is beautiful to me and totally legit (but, again, consider the source!)


  2. I too support the Russ blog idea! And support your ordination outside the box!

  3. Y’all are the best. There is definitely a generation difference on this issue. There’s a lot of old white dudes that have ALL the answers figured out. Just think: 20-30 more years and we’ll finally be in charge.

  4. You should really talk to Brandon about this. He is in a similiar situation (perhaps with the same presbytery??). He is getting his PhD in religion, has his MDiv and passed all the ords, but they dont want to touch him with a ten foot pole. Ordaining a teacher…hummm “we’ve never done that before” what!?

  5. hmmm…so Jesus was a teacher and a healer – but teachers and healers can’t get ordained. It’s a good thing Jesus didn’t have to go before a COM – they may not have approved him – he didn’t have a church job with a paycheck. I wonder if his ministry would have been validated…

  6. G 3.0400 “The Church is called to undertake mission even at the risk of losing its life, trusting in God alone as the author and giver of life, sharing the gospel, and doing those deeds in the world that point beyond themselves to the new reality in Christ.”

    Those are not the words of Scripture, but a damn good reflection on how the Church is called to carry out scripture. Ironically the same church that wrote those words will lose its life in its failure to live them out. We are more afraid of ordaining those with whom we are uncomfortable than we are of the God who calls them. In such an environment ordination is not a higher calling, but simply a setting aside. One for which I am grateful for the community who has called me and skeptical that the calling has more to do with how I make them comfortable than because I am God’s own teacher and healer.

    Peace to you and to those who are considering your call. May the Church surprise us with God’s goodness.

  7. crazy, crazy, crazy. we are praying for this to resolve soon Russ. we are in such need of physicians like you with an enormous, articulate, nurturing, recognized faith to back it up. please know we are cheering for ordination sooner than later and feel your pain all the way over here in Belgium!

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