Last year at this time I got to attend this ministerial study group as a guest of my internship supervisor. There were five of us interns then, and it was great. It was the first time I’d attended, so this year, when I officially joined the study group and attended again, I only had last year’s experience to go on. And last year we hat a single speaker presenting papers.
This year, I was invited to respond to one of the papers. I was surprised and honored. Responding to a paper isn’t as much work as writing the initial paper – because it’s half as long, and the framework is set (since it is, after all, a response). it wasn’t lost on me that the topic was ministerial authority, and I was the only presenter who hasn’t actually had an ordination yet (it’s coming). Further, the way the schedule worked out, I was the last person to present a paper. The very last one. So I wrapped up that whole portion of the study group. But, you know, no pressure.
Here’s the thing, though. I have all these wonderful, supportive colleagues. They want me to succeed. I want them to succeed, too. But in this instance, I was just a tiny bit intimidated about talking about ministerial authority to a bunch of ministers who are more experienced than I.
I needn’t have worried. My colleagues were supportive and receptive to what I had to say. I felt fully integrated into the community. It was like a baptism. Some would call such an experience a baptism of fire – and that would be baptism by the Holy Spirit. So it was apropos that afterwards I went off to the nearby hot springs and had a soak in the Roman Baths.
It was a VERY cold day, and quite windy, but it was toasty-warm in the baths. I stepped into hot, hot water. And as I descended into the bath, I thought about baptism by fire and water. The hot water enveloped me and soothed me as I considered how I had been touched by the Holy Spirit earlier in the day. I had been fully embraced by my colleagues.
Baptism by fire. Not a scary thing. Well, ok, just a little bit. But not a terrible thing. Being thrown into the deep end, I discovered I could swim. By fire or by water, we have to take that chance, don’t we? We have to discover that we come out the other side, and we are changed.
Maybe I should visit hot springs more often.
That’s all I’ve got. That’s my mite.