I started a new job two months ago.
I am now the campus missioner for Episcopal and Lutheran Students at Macon Colleges. It is an awkwardly long title, but it basically means I eat dinner with college students once a week and talk about life and faith.
It seems simple enough but I had a holy fear about starting this job. It has been a while since I worked a paid, continuous ministry job. Sure I have been doing a good bit of fill-in preaching, but that is not the same as being the person who is in charge of a ministry.
And this is a new type of ministry to me. I have never been a campus minister before. I don’t know a ton about my new colleges. I’ve only been Episcopal for ten years so I don’t know all the polity and procedures. And I know way less about the Lutheran church.
And I really wanted to get it right. For one that is just how I operate, but also this ministry means a lot to me. College students NEED people to walk with them. They NEED me not to screw up.
So, yeah I felt scared and a little overwhelmed going into my first days. I was worried I would fail.
But then I stopped worrying.
Because I realized I was not in this alone.
From day one people rallied around me to help me find my way. My bosses helped me. My predecessor helped me. My priest and other priests in the area helped me. My fellow college ministers on campus helped me. The students helped me.
Everywhere I turned someone was there helping find my way and keeping me from falling.
It was an amazing feeling. Especially since no one had to help. Either out of the goodness of their hearts or a spirit of “we are all in this together,” they stepped up and carried me through my first weeks on the job.
It has not always been like this. I have worked in organizations where colleagues were jealous and territorial and more than happy to watch you fall on your face.
But that is not how it should be, is it?
A couple of Sundays after I started my new job I had the opportunity to preach at my home church. One of the perks of preaching is getting to stand around the altar and watch the priests lead the communion liturgy. When this happens, the change in perspective from pew to altar always helps me notice different things.
This particular Sunday I kept noticing how our associate priest would point at the line of the liturgy the priest who was leading communion should be reading from. For twenty minutes he made sure his finger marked the spot where our priest was at. On the face of it, this is not a big deal. X marks the spot. But if you have ever been leading Holy Communion and your eyes skipped a line or you looked up to break the bread and then looked down and wondered, “where the heck am I?” you know this is actually a huge gift.
Seeing our associate priest support our head priest in this way really touched me. The friendship and collegiality that was underneath this gesture brought tears to my eyes. I kept imagining Aaron and Hur holding up Moses’ arms when he got tired during the battle with the Amalekites.
Because even Moses couldn’t do it all by himself. Even Moses needed help and support.
These past two months I have learned the grace of receiving help and support from my friends and colleagues. I have learned how to be humble enough to ask for help and to receive it graciously when someone offers help even when I don’t ask.
Because we were never designed to do it all on our own. We are all in this together. Holding and being held and together keeping each other from falling.
Who in your life holds up your arms when you are tired?
How can you ask for and learn to receive help when you need it?