Eugene Peterson writes, “life is the country that Christians live in, frequently named in the Psalms as ‘land of the living.'” Pastoral ministry happens in real life. Pastoral ministry is subject to the highs and the lows of life. In life’s splendor and grit, pastoral moments are present in them all. “Pastoral ministry is rooted in the soil of human experience”, to borrow from Dr. Ray Anderson. Through out the pastoral vocation there comes a time in which reality comes into paradox with our theology, but as Dr. Anderson states so eloquently, “theology that is not rooted in the ministry of God is not good theology.” Our theory of theology is incomplete without the finite details of everyday life. A few weeks ago we got a call that one of our students had been involved in serious car accident. Each of the three high school students were taken to three different hospitals separated by the seriousness of their injuries, but our student was deemed the worst. Suffering brain trauma, broken ribs, and facing uncertainty, sitting with his family was both a pastoral and theological practice. The questions raised in that moment deep within our souls was the interaction between our theology and human reality. Our lack of answers was profound, for the precise reason that all of our training and theological knowledge is unable to provide sufficient answers and solutions to a hurting and worried family. Our prayers with him and his family in the ICU was a revelation of our theology contorted by the present reality of suffering coming to the realization that we have no simple answers or solutions. Our pastoral moment was simply a quiet presence clinging to the hope that the mysterious ministry of the Holy Spirit in that moment was palpable. True pastoral ministry happens in the nuanced nooks of and cranny’s of human life in all of it’s glorious, desperate, beautiful, ruinous and extraordinary splendor.

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