How has the practice of ministry affected your experience and understanding of God? (¶330.4. a) (1) for deacon; or ¶335 (7) a) (1) for elder).
My understanding and experience of God has been shaped in three ways as through practice of ministry over the past three years: the preparation for the proclamation of the word each week; leadership of corporate worship, including celebrating the sacraments; and finally through the practice of pastoral care.
As I prepare for sermons, I enjoy spending time with the text and other resources learning the cultural context and trying to gain a better understanding for the way it spoke to its original audience. This shapes my understanding of God, because it becomes easier to connect with the Biblical witness and seek practical applications for my/our contemporary context. This connection with the text helped me to realize that God has an overall plan (I know it sounds cliché, but I think I better see that overall plan, not necessarily the specifics) for the renewal and redemption of Creation.
Leadership of corporate worship has changed the way I experience God. Previously I used to mainly seek God in personal devotions and “quiet times.” However, I now experience God more fully in corporate worship (in conjunction with regular devotions). I think it has something to do with the discipline of gathering each week in expectancy – somehow be shaped by that act of corporate worship. The idea that we have set aside all other things to gather before the throne of grace and seek to be shaped and molded in community. And when the hour ends our shaping and molding doesn’t stop, but we continue to try and live out our worship in the world around us. There is something very beautiful to me in that idea.
Finally, the practice of pastoral care has affected my understanding of God. As I have sat with families who just lost a loved one, or individuals who are crumbling under the weight of guilt, or people seeking meaning in the midst of tragedy, I feel so very small. There are no words I can offer, no comfort I can give other than my presence and a spoken prayer. As I sit in those situations and as I now reflect back on those situations, I realize that I have come to understand God as One who sits with us in our pain and brokenness, yet the Living God is not bound by that grief, sadness or despair, because just as Jesus was resurrected so God can and will help us to experience little resurrections from the figurative deaths we experience living in a creation that is ravaged with the effects of sin.
I am sure that as I continue to grow, mature in all areas of my life, my practice ministry will continue to affect how experience and understand of the Living God, the Author of Salvation.