By The Rev. Dale A. Hempen
Associate Conference Minister, Massachusetts Conference, United Church of Christ
The call of Abram and Sarai was to “bless them that they would be a blessing!” In and through Sarai and Abram “all the nations of the earth shall be blessed!
- In Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead, Robinson writes, all are given the gift of blessing; ministers are given a full measure…in baptizing a child and really holding the child and knowing it!
- In knowing a wholeness of life and not being consumed or focused on the trivial and unimportant…Jesus said something about this, “You tithe mint and rue and herbs of all kinds, and neglect justice and the love of God.” (Luke 12:42) (Talking with younger clergy this is one of their most important concerns…I don’t want to waste my life on things that don’t matter!) Who does??
- Also from Marilynne Robinson’s, Gilead, her main character John Ames, the pastor of the Congregational Church in Gilead, Iowa in the 1950’s, watched the evening news troubled about the racial strife, abuse and mistreatment of the blacks in the South. He may have been the only one concerned about this topic in that Iowa town, but he preached about it, he raised the issues. Why? Because he was preparing the young and old for issues they would address now and in the future! This too is a blessing…not accepting the status quo, but seeing a wrong and working to correct it!
- In a similar manner, one of our Ohio clergy in a small Amish town saw his role and the ministry of the church as preparing the youth who lived in this insular and isolated community for a future they could not even imagine…blessing them with trips to New York City, Washington, DC, expanding their world-view, as future citizens and church members.
Dale Hempen was previously the Associate Conference Minister serving the Southeast Area. He is not retired.