A new try at this blogging thing...

Last week I attended the second week of Transitional Ministry Training. It was wonderful.

I sit at my desk in my office in Norman looking at a sheet with affirmations from my small group. A group of 5 pastors who dwelt with one another in the challenges of the church in the 21st century, our particular contexts and struggles, what it means to be pastor in the role of transitional or interim minister and how that differs from longer term ministry, the shape that God's call takes in our lives and where we resonate with one another and our churches.

We started the week on Monday as strangers, and quite different from one another in context, age, race, gender, marital statues, ministry history, denomination. If they felt anything like I did, unsure we would be able to connect and help one another.

We ended the week a valued and truth-telling group of colleagues and even friends, who heard one another's stories of struggle without judgement, and with careful ears to where God is working and where our growing edges might be. We used careful words, loving ears, and humor in the midst of hardship and confusion. We prayed extensively for one another, our prayers complimented one another aloud, we prayed for our churches and families, for clear vision, God's presence, and our own peace. We prayed with love.

I am grateful for them, and for the teaching team for the week who offered their wisdom and work in transition to us openly and with humor that helped us all to expand our vision and hopefully find focus and clarity for this murky and often difficult call. We enjoyed one another and I found rest and renewal in the beauty of Lake Tahoe and the Zephyr Point Retreat Center. Creation is a blessing to such experiences and times. 

I return home and to this call of listening and leading in the midst of change. I love my work and this place and hope that our time together is a blessing to all of us,  and can show this church and me new ways and places God is calling us each. 

The other goal I came away from my week away with is to write more. In meal conversations with folks in my Week 2 group (who had already done the first week of this class some time previously) and with others from Week 1, more than one person told me I need to write a book, and more than one person told me I should plant churches, work with campus ministry, or explore other parts of what it means to be Church now.

I realized that in particular, as the book suggestion was made for the third time, that my fear of writing was perhaps getting in the way of hearing a call from the Spirit. She has called me to this before and I have written things that never were read by anyone else because of the fear instilled by all of my primary school teachers that I am 'not good at writing'. I try to unlearn this criticism, but it is a road block that is not yet in my rear view mirror.

So for myself, and whether anyone reads these posts or not, I am going to write something every day for the next month and post it here. If you enjoy these, or learn something, I am glad, but its not really about that, its about overcoming my fear of this writing thing. Thanks for your time!

Peace,

RJ

A Big Change!

I am staring in the face of a big change. 

In the next couple of weeks I am moving to Norman Oklahoma to be the Interim Associate Pastor at First Presbyterian Church, Norman. This is a church that has faced some serious challenges over the last few years, but that I am excited to get to participate in the next phase of their life together. Everywhere I looked, and everyone I spoke with in my visit with them spoke to me of hope and readiness to return to connections that have perhaps been strained in the struggles of the last few years, and it is a huge blessing and gift to get to participate in that hope. I will be working as their transitional Associate Pastor, doing work with youth, worship, mission, outreach and evangelism, pastoral care and generally the life of being church together. 

I am very excited. I visited for the final votes, dotting of 'i' s and crossing of 't' s for four days, and to meet the community. It was wonderful, I am  blessed to get to work with these folks, and look forward to learning what life is like where things like football and huge trucks will be an everyday part of life (and will be strange for this girl who has no experience of either). This university town should provide plenty of fun and variety too for my personal life as well, and its proximity to Oklahoma City may lead to fun also. 

Life is an adventure, and this ministry call thing is dynamic and requires flexibility, and both will be put heavily into use in this transition for me. I look forward to learning new things, meeting all new people (I know  no one in OK), and experiencing a new culture, region, church and climate. I will miss Chicago desperately, and all my loves here, but I know my love of this city and its people (and the particular ones I know and love here) are life long, and leaving feels like a 'see you later' not so much a 'good bye'.

I find myself praying in this time that the inklings of love I feel for this community (as i have fallen in love with every community I have worked and partnered with) in these beginnings eventually run deep, that this community/town is one in which I can fairly quickly find a place and not always feel like a stranger, that this transitional (and therefor short term, a year or two) position might be good work for me and for the community. If you could pray/hold in the light these dreams and hopes too, I would appreciate it. Newness is always part scary and part exciting, and i feel both these days in good measure, but am blessed that it leans toward the excitement most days. I hope your life is the adventure you want it to be too. 

 

Peace,

RJ