Discernment

Pastor Hannah Wiswasser – Associate Pastor, hwiswasser@pumc.org

IT’S ORDINATION MONTH!!! It’s hard to express how excited I am and have been for this month. Ordination has been the dream, the goal, for so long, and now it’s finally here! As I look back over my journey to ministry and the first few years, it feels like multiple lifetimes. So much growth happened over what is really a short amount of time. (Although it has felt like an eternity at times.) I wasn’t always sure this day would come as quickly as I wanted it to because there are many points in the process where delays can happen. Even though the process had its ups and downs, I never doubted God was calling me to ministry.

Discerning a call is not always an easy task. There are so many ways we connect with God. But listening for and hearing God is not always as easy. Sometimes we find ourselves asking, “Is that God I’m hearing? Is this what God wants or what I want?” Separating our will from God’s takes time and intentionality (one of my favorite words). As I discerned my call, ministry just kept coming up. I’d talk about it with strangers and with close friends and family. It wouldn’t go away, even though I wasn’t actively seeking out information yet. God kept putting ministry in my heart and in my path. If something does not go away, I tend to assume that’s God’s way of nudging me.

I also use conversations with mentors, friends, and family to help me discern where God is calling me. As an academic and introvert, it’s good for me to get out of my own head. I’m sure you’ve never overthought something in your life. But I’m quite good at it. It helps me to hear other people’s thoughts. In recent years, I’ve also found it helps me talk things out. The older I get, the more of a verbal processor I become. I ask those in my decision-making circle, “Do you see these gifts and graces in me? Do you think I can do this? This is what I think God is telling me. Does that make sense?” These are questions I have asked over and over again. As I continue to grow in my ministry experience, I will continue to ask these questions. Our call, regardless of what it is, is rarely static. Even if we aren’t called to ordained ministry, our call does change and grow as we change and grow.

My call has changed and morphed over the years. It started with general ministry, then I considered youth ministry, then considered the different types of pastors in the United Methodist Church. While working on my undergraduate degree, I felt drawn to exploring the Church’s response to mental health. In seminary, I honed my passion for pastoral care and being able to care for people holistically. I suspect this part of my call will continue to grow and change as mental health becomes a more pressing issue.

It’s also important to note you are not alone on your discernment journey. There are many resources at your disposal. One that I have found particularly helpful is spiritual direction. You work with a certified spiritual director around whatever questions you have. They provide you with support, a sounding board, and more. They help you ask questions and listen for answers. Suppose this is something you’re interested in exploring. In that case, I’m happy to help put you in touch with people from the Indiana Conference who can help you find a spiritual director.

God calls us to different things throughout our lives, and there’s nothing wrong with wanting to make sure you’re hearing the call correctly. Explore your options. Talk with your friends and family. Use your resources. Know we are here to walk with you along this journey.

And thank you to all of you who have walked with me for part of my journey. If you’d like to join us for the ordination ceremony, you are welcome too! It’s Saturday, June 11, 2022, at 1:30pm at Indiana Wesleyan University. You can find more information about location and parking here: www.inumc.org/annual-conference/ac-information/

Blessings,

Hannah

It’s Gonna Be May!

Pastor Hannah Wiswasser – Associate Pastor, hwiswasser@pumc.org

It’s finally the month of May, and you know what that means! No more NSYNC/Justin Timberlake memes until next April and racecars! May is my favorite month of the year. While the Indianapolis Motor Speedway events have been condensed over the years, it’s still 2 full weeks of cars running around the Speedway. I admit my fingers are crossed for a more “normal” May. Certainly, some things won’t change. I don’t think vendors inside the track will ever go back to “cash only” again. Admittedly, I’m ok with this change. Carrying around my card is much easier than estimating how much cash I need for the day. But hopefully, we won’t have to wear facemasks this year, and things will be able to operate at full capacity.

I know we’ll never completely go back to “normal.” Our “normal” shifted in some fundamental ways. Some of those shifts were for the better. Jobs became more accessible for people who needed to work from home. People realized and appreciated the importance of childcare in new ways. Businesses and churches realized they could expand their audience and impact. But change was hard. Pivoting on a dime and occasionally still having to pivot on a dime is exhausting. Boundaries between work and family time are blurred. People across various fields are now burning out because they’ve been working nonstop for two years. So how do we process and accept our new normal?

The first step is to remember that people will choose to re-engage with society at different levels and at different times. People with complicating factors will re-engage slowly, and they may decide some activities aren’t worth the risk anymore. Others have been back to “normal” for months, maybe even a year. There will continue to be ebbs and flows.

For the church, we have to remember that we serve multiple audiences. We serve those people who show up, in person, on Sunday mornings. We also serve a population that will never set foot in our physical building. They will join us online and worship from wherever they are most comfortable. Liturgy shifts to make sure we include both people. Directions, communication, and guidance shift to make certain people joining us online have as much access as people who sit in the physical building. Livestreaming will not go away. For NewDay, we will probably continue to have pre-packaged elements available during communion no matter how far out from the pandemic we get. Our world has changed. Some things have returned to how they were before, but others will never be the same.

Through it all, God walks with us. God calls us to trust that change is ok, that it won’t destroy us. No doubt change is hard; I’ll be the first to admit that. My prayer is that we’ll continue to ask ourselves how we can make Sunday mornings, events, Bible studies, small groups, and other things in the church’s life more accessible. I pray that we’ll embrace some of the pandemic’s critical changes. I pray that we’ll listen to the Holy Spirit and God’s guidance as we seek to bring about positive change and share the love with our community and our world.

Regardless of your affinity for racecars, I hope you enjoy the month of May!

Blessings,

Hannah