Caroline Noll, Associate Pastor

It is one of the new buzzwords: essential.

I actually prefer this word to another contender for buzzword of the year: zoom.
Essential is everywhere.

In my neighborhood there are homes with white ribbons tied around their trees in support of those on the front lines in this crisis.

I have also heard numerous news stories exploring our growing understanding of essential workers.
In our work in ministry, I have encountered this word in another way.

What is essential?
It reminds me of the questions my mentor and teacher in ministry would bring to meetings when I was new in church work.

We would gather for our first Promotion Sunday, or Vacation Bible School, or Easter Fellowship event planning time.

After opening us with light and prayer, before we ever got to logistics and nuts and bolts, she would intentionally slow down our time and ask, what is the purpose of this event?

Why do we do this?

It was another way of asking, what is essential?

If we know why we do ministry, the what and how is easier to sift through.
Now a newer mentor in ministry has been asking this question of our children’s ministers each week.

We know we can’t do what we would do in the church building in exactly the same way online and with social distancing, so what is essential in the work of ministry?

Here is what has been on our hearts:
Time with Christ, with God
Holding space
There is another big item on the list. Self-care.

The internal resources just to function in these days, much less be creative and productive, are enormous.

And we all know that we cannot give when we are empty and drained.

We must be connected to a deep well that fills us up. We must spend time there.

Oddly enough, that list of self-care looks very similar to the list for ministry.

What is essential?

Personal safety, connection with God, with others, and with something bigger and hopeful.

Time with God. Love of family and friends. Being part of a community. Knowing those who will hold space for me.
What is essential?

Jesus reminds us in Luke’s gospel, beginning in 12:22. 
Do not worry about your life (we are), or what you will eat (can you say hoarding?) or about what you will wear (well at least we’ve gotten over that one).

Consider the ravens, the lilies, and as you do, know that you are essential to God.
Consider these things. Consider what is essential. For there we find the kingdom.

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