When my Congregation bought its current building, we did a number of renovations right away. One of the first things we did was take down the giant wooden cross at the front of the building.
Me: I have a skill saw.
My Friend Anne: I do not think that the first thing the neighbours see of us should be you sawing up a cross on the front lawn.
Gary: I wish you would not use a skill saw.
I don't know how the cross came down, but it did. And it took a while for the rest of the renovations, including repainting... which meant that for a while, we did not have a cross on the front of the building, but we did have a building where the sun had bleached all of the front wall except where the cross had hung.
And I kept thinking "there is a metaphor in here somewhere".
I am not in a Christian seminary, but we learn in the shadow of the cross. Our understanding of what a Minister is comes from Priests and Pastors, not from Gurus, Shamans, or Traditional Faith Healers. We may be like Priests, or we may be different from them, but the exploration is shaped by that story. How would my understanding of what it means to serve in a religious or spiritual context change if I were studying Witch Doctors or Aboriginal Elders? I might still disagree with pieces and modify things... but "not a Priest" and "not a Shaman" are, I think, two different creatures.
Living as I do on Treaty Six land, I can't help but become immediately curious about the model of my Aboriginal neighbours. How do they "train" their leaders? Do they have categories like that? What are the various roles, and how to they choose who does what? What does spiritual leadership look like in that context? How is their religion even passed down from generation to generation?
How have I lived here all my life without knowing the answers to these questions?