She was a seminary graduate, but under our Lutheran requirements to become a pastor, she had to complete an internship.
She had to go through a year working under the direction of a seasoned pastor, learning and experiencing the daily activities and duties of a pastor of a congregation. Since she already lived in our area, she approached me about being her supervisor, working here in our church, and fulfilling this important requirement.
I was certainly most willing to do that, and we worked it out with our leadership to offer her this opportunity. However, since we had not budgeted to provide a full stipend for an intern, the best we could do at the time was to offer her a small remuneration.
This was perfectly fine with her, since everything else worked out so well, as she and her husband already lived here, and her husband’s job was here, which provided them both with health insurance.
Under this circumstance, however, we knew and she knew that she would need to get a part-time job in addition to her duties and requirements as a student-pastor. With great responsibility and diligence, she made several applications around town, and landed a job as a cashier at our local Kroger.
As she started that job, she said she really dreaded having to put in those hours. But as she got into the routine of working her assigned shifts, she said that she truly began to enjoy her work and to realize that she actually had a ministry right there at Kroger a.k.a. her Kroger Ministry.
Kroger Ministry? She was a cashier. She didn’t preach or teach a Bible Study or conduct formal prayer meetings. She took grocery items off the little conveyer belt, scanned the barcodes, collected the cash or processed the credit card, handed over the receipt, and helped bag the groceries. And then looked back at the conveyer belt again full of the next shopper’s groceries, and started the whole mindless task all over again. How is that a Kroger Ministry?
It was a Kroger Ministry because as a seminary graduate and a pastoral intern, she was taking what she had learned, was learning, and what she felt called by God to do, and she was doing all of that all day every day.
And what she was doing was representing Jesus Christ in every word she spoke with customers and co-workers, and in every act of kindness and goodness she could send in their direction.
I’m sure, when appropriate and the opportunity presented itself, she spoke of Christ, His love, His Word, His call upon her life. I’m sure, again when appropriate and the opportunity presented itself, she spoke a word of prayer with a hurting soul that she recognized was in such need for a blessing and some peace from God.
Yes, she was representing God all day every day, whether in her pastoral clerical collar or her Kroger apron. That’s pretty cool. But, after all, she was a seminary graduate and a pastoral intern, soon to be ordained and a member of the clergy. No wonder she could match the two so well together.
But here’s the point I want to make, even that Jesus wants to make. As we think about how our young intern matched and molded her two worlds into one big opportunity to represent God and serve people with His Love and Peace, that is the exact same call Jesus Christ gives to each of us. That’s the exact same call Jesus Christ gives to you.
Jesus calls each of us to live only one life, even though we live it in many, many different places and in many, many different circumstances. He calls us away from the idea that we “compartmentalize” our life. He calls us away from thinking that we live and act one kind of way when we are in church, and another kind of way when we aren’t.
What He calls us into is the same thing He called those first twelve followers into. It’s called “discipleship,” the all day every day life lived representing Him. To be a disciple is to be a student of the master teacher, learning to think and do what the master teacher has taught to think and do. And that thinking and doing is done all day every day.
So I ask you today to think about your “Kroger Ministry.” What would it look like where you work? What would it look like in your home Monday through Saturday? What would it look like at sports practice or dance class? How about this one: What would it look like in your marriage?
However it would look, it would constantly be informed by the Holy Scriptures of The Bible, the power of our Baptism at work in us for the sake of others, the power of The Holy Spirit at work in us and through us, waiting to be unleashed on our world. And it would be full of prayer.
Now, go be disciples, His disciples. That’s right, all day every day. Amen!
[Justin Kollmeyer is Senior Pastor at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Fayetteville (www.princeofpeacefayette.org).]