Three years ago today, on the fifth day of the fifth month of the two-thousand-and-third year of common reckoning, I received my ordination in the Universal Life Church. As I have in the past, I take this opportunity to look back and consider how I have grown as a minister over the past year.
Midwest Discordian Ministry continues to grow, and our fourth annual Assembly is coming up on Memorial Day weekend. I continue to preach online against fundamentalists, Christian and Atheist alike, and generally sow the seeds of Slack and Creative Chaos in the world around me.
After the success of my "Believe in Jesus!" sermon a little over a year ago, the opportunities to preach just started rolling in. By August, I had finished off my "Building Our Own Religion" spirituality group and I was now helping to organize and present worship services as a board member at the Channing-Murray Foundation and as co-chair of the Worship Committee at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Urbana. I not only organized my own services, but also helped arrange for speakers at many other services as well. It was far more challenging than I had ever imagined, but there were some great successes mixed in with only relatively minor failures. Here are the services at which I actively preached:
- 9/11/05 C-M "The Giant Fighting Robot Jesus"
- 10/16/05 UUC "We Worship"
- 10/30/05 C-M "All Saints Welcome!"
- 11/20/05 C-M "What Universalism Can Learn From Catholicism"
- 11/27/05 UUC "Spreading the UU Gospel"
- 01/22/06 C-M "A Ritual for Everybody"
- 02/26/06 C-M "The Battle of Ultimate Concern"
- 04/30/06 C-M "The Conspiracy of Light"
I'm not sure how much the people listening to these sermons valued them; they seemed to be received well enough, but regardless of that, I found value simply in their creation. The exercise of taking an idea and turning it into a short presentation has been invaluable in helping me to really understand my own beliefs. Even if I lay off the preaching in the upcoming year, I'm hoping I can keep up some kind of regular sermon writing, simply for the personal benefits.
This past year, I also began to plant some roots with Fr. Gary and Antioch Catholic congregation of St. Mary Magdalene's. I helped arrange for them to hold their services at the Channing-Murray Foundation. I brought my friend logodaedaly to one of their services, and he was so enamored of them that he joined their seminary, and is now well on his way to becoming an Independent Catholic priest! I've been meeting with Fr. Gary quite a bit lately, and he's really helped connect me back to the authentic source of my faith. I hope to explore my love of the sacraments with them more in the upcoming year, and possibly explore the idea of becoming a priest myself (presuming I'm not yet already one.)
Last October, I was deeply honored to perform the wedding ceremony of my dear friends deaconobvious and dsjones. During the course of the opening prayer, I swallowed a fly without dropping a beat; I delivered the sermon from the heart, rather than from a script; the beauty and blessedness of Love surrounded us, and afterward my friends tried to convince me that this ceremony alone was worth enough experience for me to level up.
Maybe not then...but definitely now.
*ding* REVEREND JACK IS NOW A LEVEL 4 CLERIC!
I'm not saying that level four cleric is anything near to what I thought it would be way back when I was level one. This is more of a retroactive leveling system, a way for me to look back and catalog my development as a minister. I gained new powers--spells like "UU Worship Service" and "Rudimentary Church Administration." I also, as always, learned more about how much I have yet to learn: how to be as wise in my interactions with each and every person as I strive to be when I speak to a crowd from a pulpit.
I've had some hard knocks, but on the whole, my third year as a minister was a resounding success. As for what the fourth year holds...well, let's forge on ahead and find out!