Gordon McKeeman has died. Without our ever meeting, he was a kind of spiritual grandfather to me: a mentor and teacher to many of my mentors and teachers. My conviction that ministry (from the Latin for “service”) is not the private domain of a small number of professionals, but something we all do together, clergy and laity, arose from my own experience, but it was McKeeman who gave it words:

Ministry is

a quality of relationship between and among
human beings

that beckons forth hidden possibilities;

inviting people into deeper, more constant
more reverent relationship with the world
and with one another;

carrying forward a long heritage of hope and
liberation that has dignified and informed
the human venture over many centuries;

being present with, to, and for others
in their terrors and torments
in their grief, misery and pain;

knowing that those feelings
are our feelings, too;

celebrating the triumphs of the human spirit,
the miracles of birth and life,
the wonders of devotion and sacrifice;

witnessing to life-enhancing values;
speaking truth to power;

speaking for human dignity and equity,
for compassion and aspiration;

believing in life in the presence of death;
struggling for human responsibility
against principalities and structures
that ignore humaneness and become
instruments of death.

It is all these and much, much more than all of
them, present in

the wordless,
the unspoken,
the ineffable.

It is speaking and living the highest we know
and living with the knowledge that it is

never as deep, or as wide
or a high as we wish.

Whenever there is a meeting
that summons us to our better selves, wherever

our lostness is found,
our fragments are united,
our wounds begin healing,
our spines stiffen and
our muscles grow strong for the task,

there is ministry.

Amen, may it be so, and may we know it to be so. Thank you for your ministry, Reverend McKeeman, in all its forms.