Saturday, January 27, 2007

Ugly Ministry


The other day, while talking about an upcoming workshop I'm going to themed around what those of us in our lay ministry training program can do with that training once we graduate, Fellow Traveler asked me, "Well, what sort of ministry would you like to do?"
(Just a sidebar that, while I joked the other day about my dog being my spiritual director, it's actually Fellow Traveler who acts in that capacity most of the time -- whether in the form of encouragement, gentle chastisement or simple excitement about the spiritual life...the kind of excitement that a jaded churchy type like me sometimes needs to be around. Fellow Traveler's love and support exemplifies -- what's that interesting term in the ELCA's "Visions and Expectations"? -- competency in interpersonal relationships. Tres' ironic, that.)
I know that when I enrolled in the program I did some brainstorming about what I might like to do once I finished. I seem to recall wanting to do something with ministry to older adults, and online ministry, and of course just helping out in my own parish. Since then, I will admit to not having fleshed out these ideas very much. I know graduates of my program who are now doing things like chaplaincies (FT thinks I'd make a good hospital chaplain...after my experience with my mother I'm not sure this is the case, but I won't rule it out), helping out churches that are between pastors, leading small groups...
I don't know. I just don't know what I want to do.
But I do know how I want to do ministry.
I want it ugly.
I love the ABC comedy Ugly Betty. I relate to Ugly Betty the way I've always related to Charlie Brown. If you're not acquainted with the program -- in the spirit of The Devil Wears Prada, Betty is a geeky Latino young woman -- braces, bangs, an unruly unibrow, disturbing taste in clothing -- who has, remarkably, found herself working for an upscale, Vogue-ish fashion magazine. She is surrounded by Beautiful People who tend to treat her like something they've found sticking to the sole of their designer shoe. Despite this, Betty has heart; Betty perserveres; and when life becomes un-beautiful for one of the Beautiful People, Betty has a talent for making things right in a way that earns her at least a grudging respect, and occasionally even affection, from her coworkers.
My denomination, sadly, as well as the dominant culture, often makes me feel ugly. (Note to any ecclesiastical bigshots reading this blog: "We love you and invite you into the life of the Church! Well, kind of...we guess...um...not really...but don't go away!...unless you really want to...not that we want you to, but...oh, and you need to ditch the partner if you actually want to do anything in our denomination other than warm a pew" is really not being "welcoming.") I can't do a lot about that. But I suspect that there are a lot of other people who feel ugly for a variety of reasons, who might be encouraged by having an ugly person doing Godstuff. And perhaps a Beautiful Person or two might someday find that it's good to have an "ugly" friend in ministry.
(Hat tip to Wikipedia for the photo)

6 comments:

Verdugo said...

I think your SP is right about chaplaincy, if you can swing a couple of units of CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education, which in these parts anyway is pretty much required to get in the door). And if there's one place where ministry definitely gets "ugly"-- or at least very, very real-- it's chaplaincy.

Scooper said...

An ugly truth about the Church is that it generally is no longer a community that takes care of its own. If you can get Church to do that, the process may be ugly, but the result could be beautiful.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

"This post has been removed by the blog administrator."

of course it has.
D.O.

David Huff said...

Great show! and America Ferrera is a real cutie, whether as Betty or herself ;)

Rainbow Pastor said...

Preach it, LC!!