I am a parish minister currently serving the Eliot Church of Natick MA. Eliot Church is a Community Church affiliated with the Unitarian Universalist Association and the United Church of Christ. Any statements made and postions held in "Unity," however, are solely mine(of course, they may be used with appropriate atribution). Therefore if you disagree, please do not blame the church!

Friday, June 03, 2005

Dave Miller's Charge

Well, here it is!

Sorry about the wait. When I preach I often write addtional text in pen on typed copy. I was looking for the "pupit sheets" that would have that on them. Alas! They are lost so I give you now the draft before the final draft!

Charge for David Miller
Rev. Adam Tierney-Eliot

Now, I know when I took on this assignment,
I said that I would use as my text the passage from Timothy
I am grateful to Jesus Christ who has strengthened me, having judged me faithful and appointed me to serve.
And, of course I will
But there is also another text coming
So first I charge you
To be grateful for what you have been given
And to find strength in your faith
We, here, know something of that faith
One that has sustained you through the hard times
And has given you joy

I remember well our trip to Worcester
To the UU Christian Fellowship Annual Convention
And how you impressed our fellow attendees
With depth of your commitment
I also, along with others in this room
Remember your sermons
And your unflappable nature
Even in times when others were most definitely “flapped”

It just goes to show that the faith that sustains you
Helps you to sustain the rest of us as well
Dave, continue to find and express that faith
For you truly have been appointed to serve

Now, I know you do not plan to enter the parish right now
So today we ordained you
As an evangelist to the wide world
It may seem strange, at first
To think of our Church as being evangelical
But, as I have said before, we have a message, too
And your call to the community ministry
Is every bit as important
As that of the pastor of the largest church
Your very living is your ministry
Remember to speak and remember also to listen to the truth
When and where you find it

But, there is something else that every minister
Needs to be aware of
As they go about their duties
This brings me to my other text
From the novel HMS Surprise by Patrick O’Brian
The author of Master and Commander: Far Side of the World
About life in the English Navy during the Napoleonic War
Maybe you’ve seen it Dave?
Anyone else?
I am not charging you to read the book
But I am charging you not to be
Like the minister in this story:
The moment the Reverend Mr. White said,
“The sixth verse of Psalm 75 promotion cometh neither from the east nor from the west, nor from the south,” the flagging devotion of the midshipmen to leeward and of the lieutenants to windward revived, sprang to vivid life. They sat forward in attitudes of tense expectancy;

Yet when it appeared that promotion cameth not from the north either, as the sharper midshipmen had supposed, but rather from a course of conduct that Mr. White proposed to describe under ten main heads, they slowly sank back; and when even promotion was found to be not of this present world, they abandoned him altogether in favor of reflections upon their dinner, plum duff simmering under the equatorial sun.

The point, Dave, is this
People have their own concerns and their own troubles
They get sick, they get married, they have babies
They go to funerals and,
Eventually need to be memorialized, themselves
They are concerned, like the midshipmen on the Surprise
They are very much concerned with
Promotion in the present world
And while there may be more to life than that
All people need to be met where they are

I know that this is, in many ways obvious
Particularly at weddings and funerals
And at Morse and Riverbend nursing homes
Where you have done your work

But Dave Miller, you are interested in the world and in God
These are the strengths that make you
A sure-fire success as a clergyman
And as you develop in your ministry
Sometimes what you need to hear
May not be what they need

That exciting idea that you are itching to share
That you feel is just the thing
May be, to everyone else
Like Rev. White’s “ten main heads”

So, meet the world where it is
And save the rest for your colleagues
People like Michael Boardman, Maddie and myself
Are there for you and would love to hear
What’s on your mind

Ok, so, you need to listen and to act in the lives of others
In constructive and healing ways
Well…Some of these people
Live in your house
God does not call anyone to ignore those they love
And your family needs to be you first concern

There are many in the clergy who
Will boast of how hard they work
And how often they are away from home
Thinking that their sacrifice
Makes them more effective, more holy
Certainly there is plenty of sacrifice in the ministry
And when emergencies appear
In the lives of those we care for
We are often called to go help

But…but there is no reason
To sacrifice your family to your ministry
Or to burn yourself out
That helps no one
Learn to say “no” as Rev. Peirce told me to do a year ago

Take care of yourself, Dave
Admire the scenery, read a good book
And go out to dinner from time to time
You’re the only you you’ve got
Taking time for yourself
And for Tiz
Will only help your ministry

Finally, I wish you luck
Take those obvious gifts you have received
And do the work of the ministry
I, (we!), will all be praying for you