Popping that Collar (Ordination on July 13!)

Popping that Collar (Ordination on July 13!)

Hello world!

It has been a remarkably busy month. With almost 48 hours of road-tripping (mostly solo), attending a wedding, a family reunion, a course in Greek exegesis, and retrieving all my belongings from the northern tundra (er, Pittsburgh), I’m back in Charleston for the summer. And I have some exciting news! My ordination to the presbyterate (pastor/priest) has been slated for July 13th, at 10am, at St. Johns Parish, Johns Island! And e’erbody’s invited. There will even be snacks!

You really are invited. Part of any ordination is the celebration of God’s work in and through the community to form, train, prepare and shape the ordinand (the one getting ordained- me). YOU are part of that community. Many of you- friends, family, coworkers, pastors, mentors, etc.- have played significant parts in this journey of mine, and this is an opportunity to celebrate God’s work through you, even as I am commended to the broader community as a minister of the gospel.

Come celebrate with me!

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Graduation! (with a Speech and all)

Graduation! (with a Speech and all)

It was a lovely graduation weekend up in Ambridge, Pennsylvania. Most of the family came up to celebrate, friends gathered for last walks and coffees and dinners and such. The weather was chilly again, but with patches of good blue sky here and there. Many of the South Carolina boys happen to have last names that alphabetically follow each other, so there was a riotous back row of MDiv graduates throughout the festivities- couldn’t have been more fun!

A fellow student/housemate/friend and I promptly headed south, visiting some dear friends along the way, and have now arrived home, safely in the relative warmth of the Carolina coast. Today I will read and pray a bit, visit the grandparents, and begin prepping a sailboat for tidal adventures. I’m so glad to be home.

I’ll be traveling occasionally during the next month, will be in Charleston again for the end of June and most of July, and will begin work in Georgia in August. I’d appreciate your prayers for good rest and some formative time of prayer and study as the fall approaches. I’m very much looking forward to seeing many of you in person over the next few weeks.

As Senior Class president, I was invited to share a few words, so I’ve attached my graduation speech for family and friends who couldn’t make it in person. It truly was an honor to address my classmates on the final day of our time at Trinity- I hope you find it encouraging.

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Statesboro, GA!

Statesboro, GA!

Happy Easter, everyone! I have some exciting news!

After a year of discernment and prayer and waiting on the Lord, I’m thrilled to announce that I’ll be headed to Statesboro, GA, in the fall to help plant a church there!

Statesboro is the seat of Bulloch County, a rural/college town that boasts the main campus of Georgia Southern University, a small brewery and two local coffee shops- which sounds just about perfect. For the past five years, Christ Church Anglican in Savannah has been having conversation with key people on the ground in Statesboro about the possibility of a new congregation rooted there, and for the past two years a small, passionate contingent of Statesborians has been gathering to pray and worship and seek the Lord’s direction in moving forward. I will be joining them in August to pray, worship, and seek- and I cannot wait to get started!

For the next three years, I’ll be spending part of my time in Savannah and part of my time in Statesboro, gradually transitioning to serving full-time in Statesboro as the plant (Lord willing) grows and deepens into a vibrant new community of worship and mission. I’m humbled to be called into this community, and eager to see what the Lord will do with us there.

There will be more (MUCH more) to say about all this in the coming months. In the meantime, rejoice with me at the Lord’s provision and guidance, and at the continuous expansion of his kingdom on earth!

And finally, I’m so grateful to all of you for your support and encouragement in this most recent leg of the journey. You have been a sign of the Lord’s faithfulness to me, and I am deeply grateful. I look forward to reconnecting with many of you over the summer to tell you more about what has happened while I’ve been in school, and about what I believe the Lord is doing with me in Statesboro.

 

Some other quick updates and prayers

  • Graduation is May 11, and (provided I survive my Greek final) I’ll be officially a ‘divine Master’* or something. That’s really quite exciting.
  • My preparation for ordination continues, and I’m hopeful that process will culminate with my ordination to the presbyterate this summer! Pray for deep humility and wisdom in the love of God as that approaches.
  • I’ll be traveling this summer to visit family, and spending a good bit of time in Charleston to rest, reconnect with old friends, and begin fundraising.
  • For the next few years, Christ Church will be funding part of my salary, the diocese another part, and I will fundraise the rest. I invite your prayers for my growing trust in the Lord’s provision. Also, pray for His provision!

 

*My degree is technically a ‘Masters of Divinity,’ or MDiv. It just means I’m trying to be a pastor, not a professor. But ‘divine Master’ would look pretty good on a business card, I think…

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Joy and Becoming Less

Joy and Becoming Less

There is a remarkable moment in John chapter 3 when the disciples of John come to him, concerned with his waning prestige.

“Teacher, the one who was with you across the river, who you bore witness about- look! He is baptizing, and all are coming to him.”

John’s position as ‘the wild prophet of Israel’ is threatened by his cousin, Jesus of Nazareth, who has started his own thing downriver. Surely John is concerned? He responds,

“… The one with the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and listens to him, rejoices with joy at the bridegroom’s voice. This joy of mine has been fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease.”

I’ve always picture John looking off into the distance with wistfulness in his eyes as he speaks these words. He knows he should be happy, but he’s going to miss his glory days. I’ve pictured a ‘grin-and-bear-it’ moment, as though he says, ‘I know I should be happy, and I’m sure I will be… but I do wish it could have lasted just a little longer.’

I’m afraid this vision speaks more to my heart than to John’s. Reading this morning (in Greek, mind you! How cool is seminary??), I was struck with the ‘rejoicing with joy’ of vs. 29 (transliterated, something like ‘Kara Kairei’). John is not rueful, brooding, melancholy. He likens himself to the best man at the long-awaited wedding of his best friend. He’s been waiting all of his life for this moment. He becomes less (in the public eye) with his ‘joy fulfilled’ (‘Kara peplerotai’). He becomes less as his joy becomes more.

We have all experienced this delight-in-diminishment at one time or another, when we’ve been taken by the beauty, the glory of what stands before us. You stand on the street in front of your house, marveling at the fiery sunset, and as your kids step out the front door you can only point and whisper ‘look, look!’ You don’t even want to speak, less you interrupt what is flowing out from on-high.

You sit in the venue beside your friend as the band begins to play your favorite song, and you are so taken by the experience that you just want to melt into the seat, to get out of the way and be absorbed into the moment, to let the moment be perfect.

You feel this way in love, holding hands in a humid summer evening. Surely, your insecurities get in the way, mix things up. But in those perfect moments of delighting in the other, you have the sense that, to be in their presence forever would be enough.

John is not disappointed to be found obsolete. He is overjoyed. Because that which is more beautiful than anything that he could imagine is finally standing before him. He simply can’t believe he gets to see it.

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To be begotten of you

To be begotten of you

To be

begotten

of  you.

Not of blood,

nor of will

of flesh or man,

but of you, begotten.

I am lost in the mechanics,

I am scrutinizing the papers,

I am arguing validities

when you smile,

tousle my hair,

and say

“My child,

my child,

my child,

my boy.”

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Chapel Sermon, Exodus 12

Chapel Sermon, Exodus 12

Hey folks! Here’s a little something from my week- a sermon I preached on Tuesday morning in student chapel. I feel compelled to remind you that students are only allowed to preach for 7-9 minutes (which is the worst) in the morning sessions. So, there you have it. I hope you are as encouraged listening as I was writing.

Enjoy!

Disclaimer- it’s the year 2019. Not 219. My bad.

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The Teacher – on Nicodemus and Preaching

The Teacher – on Nicodemus and Preaching

Teacher?
I am no teacher, come in darkness.
A prince, an emissary,
An old man full of ancient worries.
An old man clinging to his world,
To his home as to a womb.

But you have come from God.
Can man deny it? Look at your hands.
They shimmer with wine as with blood.
You have ascended and you have descended,
To teach and be lifted up, you say,
To teach and begin again.

How little I understand when you speak
of earth, and still I speak of heaven.
Foolhardy and naive, I speak,
A child calling all to come and drink
Though he search all the night
for a cup, for a word.

Oh, listen to the wind
As it moans and gasps in the darkness-
Whimpers and cries,
The groans of one paining for release!
As Dionysus the Midwife speaks into the darkness:
Today is your birthday, old man.

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I Did Not Know Him – on Being in Seminary and the Ignorance of John the Baptist

I Did Not Know Him – on Being in Seminary and the Ignorance of John the Baptist

We stand beneath the light
In the waters, quickened flow,
And watch for him who washes all.
We wash and wait for him
Before whom we were sent.
No, I myself did not know him.
Who knew him? Not his own.
Not the world who held him, who bore
The author of her branches.

The world which his words uphold
Is blind as a newborn babe, though old.
Is blind as cruel amnesia,
which sees and cannot remember,
And is angered by love’s expectation.
And I, with the world, am blind.
It is my world, and I its prophet.
I myself did not know him there
Until the dove descended.

Before my eyes he descended
And tabernacled with one I knew
And had never seen.
The Lord, my friend, the Lord, my cousin,
The Lamb, who bears and buries sin.
I did not know him, but for this reason
I was sent to wash with water,
To see this day and wonder,
That all might see and know.

And shall I minister in ignorance?
Shall I wash until he comes again
If I don’t see him? Do I know him?
Revealed now in water and in blood,
I know him.
And though blind, I see dimly
The face which I will know, as known.
And the trees which walk around
Will be as men again, and as women.

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Calling

Calling

Several years ago I went backpacking by myself. I thought it would be a rejuvenating escape from life’s anxieties- instead it simply added a few more pointed anxieties (bears, weather, getting lost) while removing those common-grace distractions on which I had come to depend (community, coffee, Netflix). It was challenging, but I learned some things.

At one point, after missing a turn and going several miles in the wrong direction, I decided to take a ‘short-cut’ down a gully to a river which I knew to be in the distance. My logic ran something like this:

  • I know the river cuts between here and camp.
  • I know this gully will either take me to this river or to the Mississippi.
  • Either way I’ll find civilization eventually.

So I strove off into the underbrush, following water as it chased gravity downhill. This adventure did not help my anxiety, but neither did it kill me, and hours of cobwebs, thunderclaps, and compass-checks later, I found my river. Across knee-deep clarity I could see the edge of a trail.

Most often in my life, a sense of calling settles into my heart kind of like a river at the base of the hills. There’s a general motion (‘water runs this way’) and there is a conclusion (‘I reckon’ this is where it’ll end up’) without any real clear directions along the way. There is a sense that ‘one way or another, I’ll end up there’- a sense of likely conclusion without any particular reason to expect so. I remember in college having just such a sense of calling, specifically about a summer internship. I was invited somewhere I did not want to go, to do something I did now know how to do. And while I was not excited about it, the sense of certain conclusion was clear- I was going to end up in that internship. I just was. And so I went. It proved to be one of the least pleasant experiences of my life, and also one of the most formative.

As I look towards the spring, towards decisions and direction and calling, I would really love to have a clear word of direction (“DO THIS DREW”). Instead, I’m beginning to get a sense of an inevitable conclusion- an idea about where I might be next year. And with that comes joy and excitement, and fear. Since my college internship experience, I can no longer equate calling with comfort; moreover, I know that church planting does not generally come with a leather recliner. Alas.

Catching this kind of calling takes time, and prayer, and waiting, and checking, and conversations, and advice, and repentance, and listening. And I’m going to keep asking the Lord to be more clear. I have some time. But in the meantime, I’m fairly certain that the Lord is leading me to Himself, in a slowly-rolling-down-the-hill kind of way, and I reckon I’ll hit my river soon enough. That or the Mississippi.

I invite your prayers for continued discernment.

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Light at the End of the Tunnel

Light at the End of the Tunnel

Friends. I have four ridiculous things to tell you about this week.

  1. The mono is almost gone-o.
  2. I turned in my final papers for this semester yesterday- only one Greek exam left!
  3. I just registered for the final four courses necessary to finish my MDiv.
  4. I leave for Costa Rica tomorrow afternoon.

Ok, five things. I got a hair cut. Euro-Jesus/Hobbit/Jedi no more. Back to Drew. I feel instantly better.

It has been a whirlwind of a conclusion to this semester. I don’t feel like I’ve stopped since the mono-month. My prayer life has been unbelievably rocky, with some much-sweeter-than-usual moments surrounded by a total lack of discipline. Part of this is because I’m still trying to sleep as much as possible, and the ox has been in the ditch so long I thought it might be dead.* But part of it is also because I have a stubborn, self-righteous heart, and would rather not admit my need. That has become increasingly obvious this semester, particularly as I’ve studied and worshipped with people I vehemently disagree with. That disagreement easily becomes judgment. I can careen from ‘I disagree with you’ to ‘you’re impossibly wrong’ to ‘I’m definitely better/more thoughtful/more Christian than you’ with remarkable speed, all the while bemoaning my weakness and oft-undisciplined approach to faith. Needless to say, it has been a week for confession and repentance. The glory of the gospel is, of course, that Jesus came for sinners. As we used to say at City Church, when you confess your sins to the Almighty, you are placing yourself in His hands: you are the ones he’s come for. If he had come for spiritual heroes, he wouldn’t have found any.

I ask your prayers for the next couple weeks.

  • For the trip to Costa Rica with OneWorld Health. Check out their website, and pray for the team. 12 of us, trying out a new kind of medical support trip serving refugees in San Jose. I’m staying a few extra days to work briefly with another non-profit down there- stories to come, I hope!
  • For time at home, for rest and re-centering. It’s been a whale of a semester.
  • For ‘future’ conversations. I’m busy scheduling meetings with bishops/pastors/friends/counselors during the couple weeks that I’m home- pray for wisdom and humility, and for clarity as to where the Lord may be calling me.

Happy Advent, all! Thank you for reading, and for your prayers. Keep in touch, and let me know how I can be praying for you.

 

 

 

*Seminary joke.

 

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