Top 9 (publishable) Things I learned during my Discernment Internship


So Christmas Eve was my last service as an intern with Calvary Episcopal Church. My 6 months there included countless lessons, some learned the hard way, some the easy way. 

9) I love sushi! Ok, this one is just about the timing (I said during my internship, not through) that I happened to give sushi a shot again, and lo and behold, it stuck. Now all I have to get is Indian food and I think I can have an appetite for any americanized international food. 

8) How to use a thurible. Mostly. I could probably still use some practice. High church can be fun if you know what you’re doing. 

7) I love the multi-generational aspect of parish ministry. Four-year-olds who are quick with a hug. Opinionated octogenarians. Frazzled college students. Esteemed professionals who let me see their vulnerabilities. Step back, squint your eyes and say it with me: “Oh, hello, God.”

6) Ministry can be awkward. Or maybe more accurately, I can be awkward, and that won’t change with any professional title. I will never be a smooth operator when it comes to pastoral care. But I won’t let that stop me from trying earnestly. Besides, as luck would have it, it’s not all about me. 

5) Buy coffee and breath mints in bulk. I like my coffee black and I regrettably get to around noon before I put anything else in my stomach. 

4) Good sermons sometimes usually don’t show up until Saturday afternoons. I never procrastinated in writing a Sunday sermon. However, most of my mid-week writings were mis-starts that can be filed under “Really, Cortney?” But usually in a moment of desperation around 2pm on Saturday, I would get quiet and let the sermon come to me, instead of hunting it down. Grace can be coy. 

3) Speaking of sermons, guess who has two thumbs and can deliver one heck of a sermon- this gal! Pause like you mean it. Look people in the eye. Slow down, then get slower. Believe what you’re saying. And, when in doubt, quote Tina Fey. 

2) Everything is emotional. Everything. Pause. Be patient. Listen. There’s nothing rational about the gospel so why should churches be different?

1) The altar is humbling. Every Sunday morning, three times, I’d stand behind the altar and see a crowd of people facing my way. A crowd of people who’d woken up early and gotten dressed on their day off to come here and meet God. If you think about it for a moment, that’s a little bit crazy. And especially crazy that God might someday trust me (me!) to be the one in charge of that. Enter grace. And community. And tradition. This mystery is still unfolding. 


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