In Eugene Peterson’s book, Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places, he talks about the importance of place and the way that we are called to particular places. He recounts the story of Basil the Great who appointed his brother Gregory to the little backwater town of Nyssa. “His brother told him that he didn’t want Gregory to obtain distinction from his church but rather to confer distinction upon it (p. 74).”
Peterson goes on, “In obscure Nyssa, apart from the high-adrenalin stimulus of the city, Gregory looked around and recognized his place in creation, noticed the script of God’s revelation in the created world around him, noticed the intricate relationsips and resonances between his place and the Christ of creation.”
Do you think this just might be applicable to folks in an itinerant system? How are you conferring the distinction of God upon the place where you’ve been placed? How have you encountered God in the place where you live and serve?
2 thoughts on “A Place of Distinction”
I love your theme of place in your recent posts, Matt. As an aspring UM pastor I have quickly caught on to the humility imbedded in the intinterant system. I like Peterson’s quote about Gregory noticing “the script of God’s revelation in the created place around him.” This is not only a potent reminder of our own call as servants, but it also reminds me that the people in the “Nyssa” churches, are just as much a part of the script of God and just as in need of God’s love as those people in the Willowcreeks and Saddlebacks. Why do UM pastors continually place cultural nuances of upward movement and promotion upon their call to pastor churches? The enemy is so subtle.
Matt – Thanks for your post and raising the story of Basil and Gregory in relationship to appointments. I think that this is a very valuable point within the United Methodist Church.
Your question of How are you conferring the distinction of God upon the place where you have been placed? is a helpful slant on the question that I have asked myself – How am I making an impact in my current setting? Sometimes I find it to be a challenge, but it is an important calling no matter what the setting.
Chris – Thanks for your comment, I think there nothing good can come from the connection between moving up the ladder or promotion with the appointive system. I think that one’s appointment improves only if it is in a place where one can more effectively live the gifts which have been given by God.