Spirit Alive: What Do You Do When Life Breaks In?

Spirit Alive is a twice a month blog that looks at different aspects of mission and ministry throughout the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference and beyond.
August 9, 2016

With Heart, Soul, and Mind:

What Do You Do When Life Breaks In?

"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this others will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."
John 13: 34-35
When I started Spirit Alive last September, my goal was to share different aspects of mission and ministry in a regular way with the clergy and lay leaders in the annual conference. My hope was to do this so that together we could reflect on and learn more about the meaning of ministry today. Life is changing all around us. As a result, the challenge for us is to discover what ministry means in a time such as this...and then live our lives accordingly.
But sometimes life simply breaks in and upsets everything that preceded it. This happened for many of us last week when we were confronted by the reality that Jim Parkhurst, the Director of Camp and Retreat Ministry, was arrested by federal officials for alleged criminal conduct. The charges are not related to his duties in the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference or the Camp and Retreat Ministries program, but the reality of Jim's arrest had a deep impact on all of us nonetheless. Sometimes there are simply no words to adequately capture what is taking place before your eyes.
Ministry often sounds like something that is planned, organized, and predetermined. The reality is that
often ministry is simply what we end up doing when we discover our best selves and share those qualities with others in the context of life's struggles, complexities, and tragedies. In fact, what I've learned over the years is that often this is exactly when ministry really begins. Frequently, it is in these situations that we respond best to the brokenness we see around us in caring, loving ways...and in the process, build community together. Often times, when all is said and done, it is here that the bonds between us grow and deepen. In this way, ministry isn't so much about carrying out a preconceived program so much as it is about finding words of comfort to share with those who are hurting, working together to overcome a difficult situation, and reaching out to others with love.
When life breaks in unexpectedly, it affects each of us in a different way. Let us be aware of this and respond to each other with care and compassion, offering a listening ear and a loving heart to mend the wounds we see around us. As we all confront the news of this past week, I encourage you to read what Bishop Hagiya shared with us through the pastoral letter that he sent out today:


Friends, I encourage us not only to be in ministry in the world in the places where we have planned to be present, but also in those places where life simply interrupts things. In all times and places, may we be in ministry with one another in loving ways...and today let us pray for everyone whose lives have been touched and altered by the events of this past week. May God's grace abide in the midst of all of life's realities, even those that are the most difficult for us to deal with.

In God's grace,
Spirit Alive is a twice a month blog and email by Rev. Lowell Greathouse, Mission and Ministry Coordinator for the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference. It seeks out where the spirit is alive in our congregations and communities.


Lowell Greathouse
Lowell Greathouse is the Mission and Ministry Coordinator for the Oregon-Idaho Conference of the United Methodist Church. He looks for places to find where the spirit is alive and help them grow in vitality and fruitfulness. Share with him at lowell@umoi.org