My mother, who was raised culturally Catholic, taught me to pray soon after I was able to construct complete sentences. I have been talking with God ever since. I have always “heard a different drummer,” as anyone who knows me well will attest.
In 1973 I became a leader in the Bay Area Catholic Charismatic Movement. For the first time I began to read the Bible seriously, and I surrendered my life to the Holy Spirit. Large and small miracles frequently happened to me and to those around me.
In the 6 years that followed, my faith grew from an acorn into an oak tree.
Then in 1990 I was invited to deliver a scripture reading at a memorial service of a friend’s husband. As it turned out, the priest did not arrive because of some confusion on the time. Without thought or hesitation, I volunteered to officiate.
I had attended so many funerals and memorials over the years where the bereaved community had been left sad and hopeless. This was my opportunity to share my interpretation of eternal life. The service surprised everyone—including me! Invitations to do other memorials soon followed.
I am often asked if I have a church. I respond that I am a minister for the “un-churched.” I serve everyone, including those with or without a faith tradition.
It is reported that currently two thirds of all the people in the United States who say they believe in a Higher Power do not have a church home or spiritual community. These are the people whom I am especially called to serve.
* * *
For 30 years, real estate has been my career, while my ministry has been my avocation. Just over a year ago, in early January 2008, I was talking with my friend about the downturn in the real estate market. When I mentioned some possible career options, my friend responded, “or Chaplain.”
Chaplain, I thought? Hmmmm…
In less than a week I was divinely guided to Rev. Dr. Gina Rose Halpern, the founder of The Chaplaincy Institute. She invited me to visit the first day of the January module on Early Christianity. As it turned out, the module began the very next morning!
By four o’clock of the first day of my first module, I knew that this was where I needed to be.
The Chaplaincy Institute is truly an interfaith seminary where every faith tradition is honored and celebrated, and where there are no walls around God.
This past year was an immersion into the world’s religious beliefs and traditions, guided by some of the most incredible teachers one could ever imagine. They engaged not just my mind, but also my heart and my soul.
You might ask, “What is next, Sharon Grace Luther?” As usual, I am open to Spirit. I truly enjoy officiating at memorial celebrations and weddings, and I also have always been drawn to comforting those who are in the hospital facing uncertain times.
We will see where Spirit leads. I will answer each call as it comes.
The words of today’s closing song convey my sentiments:
“We are opening up in sweet surrender to the Luminous Love Light of the One.” (1)
As you sing that with us as we leave today, I invite you to do the same.
(1) Full song lyrics: “We are opening up in sweet surrender to the Luminous Love Light of the One; we are opening, we are opening.” (author unknown)