In the role of a pastor, results are not tangible and are seldom measurable. Even when they are measurable, the question of what they are measuring is an open one. I can apply myself to a task and see nothing change over long periods of time. Pastoral ministry can often feel purposeless.
Living with faith, hope, and courage in the time between Jesus’ resurrection and the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come, our life is “on the way.”
Have I engaged this topic in a way that leads to the flourishing that you very beautifully call forth from male leaders? One day God will make this clear. But isn’t the point of dialogue to enter into the fray and to refine each other through enhanced mutual understanding?
By keeping the love of our neighbor and working toward shalom in our communities at the forefront of everything we do, we can engage in these conversations with a love and humility that will then lead to the mutual thriving of those in our communities and extend outwards to the world around us.
A return to the parish model would involve training seminarians and young clergy to create core groups of lay people who live into their baptismal promises, having the courage to be missionaries in the territorial parish, caring for the sick, relieving poverty, providing young people with tools to live for Jesus in a secular world.
Since I have been kicking around the church as a priest on both sides of the Atlantic for more than fifty years, I was recently asked if I had a few tips when searching for another call. I came up with this rag-tag selection of ideas. When he read them, my friend suggested these might be helpful to others at a transition point in their ordained life. So I offer them to that end.
Hospitality does not mean inviting people into the most sacramentally intimate spaces of the Christian life, it means being honest about intentions, healthy boundaries, the shape and form such commitments will take, and yes, eventually, the intimate sharing of one body with another. If consent is important in our debates about sexual boundaries, how is it also not important for sacramental boundaries?