Discerning Calls

I am very excited to announce that Lucy Strandlund has been named a Postulant for Holy Orders in the Diocese of Alabama and approved to attend seminary next fall. Discerning a call to ordination in the Episcopal Church is a long and sometimes arduous process where one is asked to spend a lot of time reflecting on gifts for ministry and challenges which lie ahead. Some of that reflecting is done alone in daily prayer. Some is done in ongoing meetings with a priest, some in a peer group, some in a parish internship, and some with the Bishop and the Commission on Ministry. Overall it usually takes some years for someone to acknowledge such a call and then have that call reviewed and affirmed by the Church. And then there is the seminary training which takes three years and involves study, various formation experiences, and further review.  So the path to ordination takes a long time, five or six years at a minimum. We credit the Holy Spirit with planting the seeds of such a call and depend on the Church to test and affirm the call.

Lucy and I have been meeting on a regular basis over the last year and a half. For the past year Lucy has been serving as Lay Associate at St. Michael and All Angels’ in Millbrook with Mark Waldo. She is a gifted communicator of the Gospel, compassionate in her dealings with people, insightful and intellectually curious, effective in leading groups, grounded in spiritual practices, has an intuitive knowledge of the workings of the church, with wisdom far beyond her 29 years. She has a humble heart and loves the Lord. The Bishop and the Commission on Ministry have seen all that as well. And so it makes obvious sense for her to pursue ordination.

Lucy already has a Master’s Degree in Spiritual Formation from the Seminary of the Southwest in Austin. As she plans now to go back to seminary to earn a Master’s in Divinity, the next step is to interview at various seminaries and decide where she will go. Those interviews should be completed by the end of February and sometime this Spring she and Daniel will know where they will be moving.

And that brings us to the sad part of this announcement, that Daniel will of course be going with Lucy and leaving us as Associate Rector. He has been an energetic and innovative presence here with remarkable skills, adding to our clergy team and parish life in so many ways. He will be greatly missed. But we still have some months to enjoy him and Lucy before they leave us next summer.

Numerous people over many years have discerned a call to ordination while at St. John’s. There’s something in the atmosphere here that seems conducive to such calls. Daily I have the privilege of working in this remarkable place which allows us all to know God’s abiding presence and to feel the little tugs at our hearts to serve God in deeper ways. A few of us experience a call to ordination but all of us experience the call to be loved by God and to love others in tangible ways of service. Some of that happens just by walking into our nave. Some of that happens by being part of the community of our parish. And some of that happens as we allow the Gospel of Jesus Christ to sink deeper and deeper into our hearts.

Those who pause regularly to ponder the gift of Jesus Christ in their personal lives are rewarded for their faithfulness. In those times of devotion we know the love of Christ and we experience direction for our everyday living. We come to know what we are to do next in our relationships, in our vocations, and in our world. It’s really not enough to know that this  is a place of history and beauty. It’s really not even enough to know that we are loved by God. Each of us is called to serve and it takes some ongoing practice of discernment to hear just how we are to serve.

In a few days we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior. Is there room in your hearts for the Lord? Is there room in your life for you to hear the ways in which God is calling you to serve? God calls us daily. As we listen, so can we follow.

 

Yours faithfully,

Robert C. Wisnewski, Jr.

 

Joy and Concern

We pray for one who has died, Carrie Cook Williams, mother of Carma Marks. Rest eternal, grant to her, O Lord; and let light perpetual shine upon her.

As the new year begins we are clearing our friends’ prayer list and beginning anew. Please contact us by phone, mail, or email (fay@stjohnsmontgomery.org) to add anyone you would like to our prayer list.