We are called to be pastor, prophet, and priest. I realize that some of us have strength in one of those more so than in another, but this does not give us a license to ignore that "weaker" aspect of our ministry.
I learned early on that people love to call us "Pastor." It took me a while to accept that was how they expressed respect and expectation. I never use the term in introducing myself, but I share that I am a pastor and that it is a privilege to share in the faith development of so many people. I am humbled to be present at times of joy and sadness with those placed under my care. I do my best to be present with people and to bring them the assurance of the love of Christ.
I know many who would tongue in cheek call me "Father," because I am such a liturgical nerd. I truly love the priestly function of the pastoral office. There is a sense of great awe as I move people through the Ordo of the church that ties us back to the first church and gives us a place in the Church of today. To lead the Eucharist and lift the bread and cup or to hold the baby as I pronounce the trinitarian blessing upon him or her is a truly holy moment.
Where I struggle is that darn prophet part. Who am I to speak prophetically to a congregation of truly diverse mindsets? What happens if I am not correct in my prophetic word? What happens if the Word of the Lord is really the word of Dana or, worse yet, not the word people want to hear? This is not an easy call to one who desires to be liked by all people. A prophetic voice might be construed to be political instead, and in this day and time that is the kiss of death. How do I keep faith with all the parts of my call when the a prophet is not welcomed in his/her own hometown (and where ever we serve is our home)?
These are tough questions for us, especially in our current day and time. I believe we can be prophetic without being party political. I believe we can be prophetic without being closed off and and final. I believe we can be prophetic by speaking the truth in love and being bathed in prayer.
Karl Barth reminds us that, regardless of the issue, the best way through is in prayer. As United Methodist we take our thoughts and our words, and we run them through a time of prayer and a time of reflection with the big four: scripture, tradition, reason, and experience. When we have done this we can do nothing else to quench the burning in our belly but to speak the prophetic word in love.
Maybe because I am getting older and more set in my ways, I am finding the strength to speak up for injustice (which I should have done long ago) and that my set ways are fluid as I open my heart to the Holy Spirit. It is sad to me that this happening only now, that my prophetic side is just beginning to balance with my pastoral and priestly responsibility. I wonder how different my ministry would have been had all three been equal all along?
I'm just thinking that it is never to late to speak up though. I covet your prayers and your prophetic word to me as we serve together in this holy call.