A question that Rev Margaret asked the staff team recently was “What is the joy in our ministry?” It certainly got me thinking. 17 years ago I had felt the call to take my faith a step further and after 3 years of study and a few interviews when I had to discuss and explain my faith, I was licensed as a Reader.
During these years I have had the privilege of preparing and taking services in all of the churches in the Area. I’ve taken many funerals which has involved talking to the bereaved families and preparing a service that they feel recognises the love for their family member and celebrates their life. This despite the sadness that surrounds a funeral gives me joy that I can help in some small way to make a difference for the family. As you can imagine it takes a lot of thought and prayer to put together such a service, but it is also the pastoral work that goes alongside this that is most joyful. Not that these times are joyful.
I also find joy in putting together services and other occasions where we all get together to think about and discover what our Christian faith means. It really is fun thinking of creative ways to share our faith and working with other like-minded people in the preparation. Thinking of different ways to explain, discuss and to share our faith is joyful – the hope is that people who attend such services or events also find it joyful! Just a plug here – I hope you will join us at Marchington Woodlands Village Hall on 15th August at 3pm for one of these creative ways to look at our faith and enjoy getting back together over tea and cake!
So what is joy? The dictionary definition is a feeling of pleasure and happiness. Defining joy in ministry is difficult. I suppose that it is the pleasure of what I have just described. But then the happiness comes from the feeling I can get when I get the sense that a service has been well received, not that I’m often told! I just hope it has!
But the real joy is that I am not alone – I may live alone but I have a companion in all that I do – one who understands me, one who I can talk to, one who puts up with me, accepts me as I am with all my faults and failings, one who will never walk out on me, one who will give me encouragement. There is the continuous assurance that God in Jesus through the Spirit walks beside me always. What more can I ask for!?
Maggie Hatchard, Reader for Uttoxeter Area of Parishes.