Yesterday, a man with AIDS anointed me with oil on my forehead, in a sign of the cross, and he spoke a blessing of God’s love for me, during a service with residents and staff of Project Lazarus, our local HIV/AIDS residential treatment program. On a rainy afternoon in September, I fought through crazy traffic for 30 minutes thinking I needed to be there to help others. God had other plans.
How absurd is my myth that I am a minister, an ordained person, somehow called to minister to others. How absurd. Who made this business up about only certain people being called to be a minister? When I fall for the myth, I miss out on such amazing moments as what happened yesterday.
A man considered to be a kind of modern day leper, gay and HIV positive, was the minister and I the recipient of God’s grace through him. We all stood in a circle, a symbol of our equality. Each person anointed the next, and spoke words of blessings as they chose. And so yes, I did get to pass the blessing on to the man on my right. I guess that qualifies as ministry too. But that’s the thing: we were all ministering to each other.
Anita is a minister, and she was there participating in the shared ministry. Anita gets it that we are so very privileged to be part of the circle of ministry. Kim, who directs Project Lazarus, gets it too. He was bawling like the kind of minister who knows how to open his heart wide and receive the blessing. Fred was the minister who guided us through the service and he was on the verge of tears the whole time. He gets it too.
In fact, I think everyone there got it that we are all needing the shelter of each other, the blessing of each other, the ministry of each other. Ministers all. That was the truth that God reminded me of on a rainy Wednesday afternoon in September, at an anointing service for Project Lazarus.