-Rev Melissa Fain-
I just spent a couple of great days camping at Christmount Christian Assembly, in Black Mountain, North Carolina. While I was there, I took a few minutes to chat with Rev. Jamie Brame. That name might sound familiar to you. He is the Programs Director up at Christmount, and he has written for one of our devotionals. I knew Jamie through Christmount. I spent three summers working there. The first year, I asked to be a Camp Staffer. He had just hired the last one, and asked if I wanted to work in the kitchen. Wanting to do something, I happily said yes. The following two years I was camp staff. That's a side note to the reason for this post.
Jamie reminded me of something I've always kept close to my heart, but have never verbalized. A minister is more than the man or woman who is called. A minister is the collection of experiences and lessons from the countless individuals around him or her. When I share weekly meditations, I'm sharing more than myself. Part of my words and actions come from Jamie Brame. So, I wish to share some of the people who have tempered my message, and how they have formed me into the minister I am today.
Rev Jamie Brame: Jamie is the human representation of God's grace in action. Two nights ago, my daughter and I stopped by the Guest House on our way to the pool. Jamie and I talked for a few minutes, and as I was leaving, he began talking about me with someone else. "You know, she used to sing..." he began. "Just like my dad," I thought to myself. Recalling history with fond recollection. And that's what he does with everyone. You can sit with Jamie and hear story after story of those Jamie has encountered, and even the rough stories are edged with love. That's who he is. That's who I became. Everyone has the potential for greatness. Everyone has the ability to change and grow. Jamie sees that. He doesn't focus on the mistakes. He focuses on the potential. When I was ordained I swore I would live by that mantra. God help me, if Jamie loves me, I must go and do likewise.
Rev James Brewer-Calvert (And his whole family): I've known James' family for years now. My first year on Camp Staff the youngest Brewer-Calvert was going through Beginner's Camp at Christmount. I've counselled the oldest through CYF. I've worked side by side with both in multiple camp settings. With James, I could call him and he would answer. I could ask him, and he would help. He is the human representation of God's hope in action. He told me to sit and wait, not because the time to act was done, but because sometimes one has to pause to prepare for action. He always sees the best in what is coming, and knows we are the hands and feet to make that best come to fruition. If James see the best in me, I must become the best I can be.
Rev Lori Lynn Wachter: Lori Lynn was the very first female minister I heard preach. Her Craddock style of preaching was immediately engaging. As a middle schooler, I watched everything she did with awed fascination. The ease at which she directed camp. The planning for every youth event. I saw the method behind the plan, and was hooked. It's no wonder she was the very first person I told when I needed to express that I too, had a call to ministry. She affirmed that call. I was someone who never understood my own power, or fought for it. I gave it up more often than I'd like to admit. Lori Lynn taught me power is both earned and fought for. If Lori Lynn could stand up for the broken shell of myself, I can stand up for the redeemed child of God I've become.
Rev. Fred Craddock: Fred influenced me before I even understood that was what was happening. He transformed the world of modern preaching, the very world I grew up in. When I finally heard him preach at the General Assembly in Nashville, I watched the art of preaching, as he so deftly told complex theological ideas in an easy to digest way. He wasn't trying to show how smart he was. Instead, he was at the level of the listener, helping them gain knowledge. This all done in a storytelling form. So many pastors were knowingly or unknowningly taught their preaching style from the late Rev. Fred Craddock. Fred, in his greatness, was the most humble among us. If he could shine so bright in his humility, I can shine to light the way for others inside or outside the church.
Mrs. Miller: I try to give credit where credit is due. For example, when someone comments on my neat handwriting I always respond, "Thank my third grade teacher." She was appalled by our writing and made us all redo it. I write neatly today because of her. If you ever hear me read the bible, and hear my inflection, thank Mrs. Miller. Mrs. Miller was my fifth grade teacher. She was the sweetest most loving person, who reminds me of Ms. Honey from Matilda (without knowing her backstory, of course.) She fully believed, if you couldn't read a passage with inflection, you were missing pieces of the story. Without realizing this was what she was doing, she helped me in the first level of biblical interpretation. She also gave me a passion for reading, and helping others love the text too. If Mrs Miller could help fifth graders put aside their arrogance for a moment to see the deeper meaning in what's already in front of them, I can do the same with adults.
This is just a small collection of people I can easily pinpoint and say they have molded my life as a minister. In reality, I could spend the rest of my life naming the ones who have influenced my ministry. You may only hear my solo voice in Thursday Meditations, and Sunday Education, but I'm truly singing a harmony of all those who have taught me. These are the voices preaching beyond my words. Every minister who stands before a congregation is preaching in harmony. You are hearing their camp counselor, mother, sister, teacher... the list goes on.
Who is your harmony? When you work with others, who has formed you into the person you are today?