Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Reluctant Seminarian Returns…

It’s been nearly half a year since I’ve updated my blog. Some of it was the madness which surrounds graduating from seminary. Some of it was the emotional exhaustion of a summer unit of CPE (at a hospice no less!). Some of it was feeling like I was not having adventures in far off places, so why bother updating about my ho-hum boring life. Some of it was just plain laziness.

But, as a friend of mine says regularly, it’s time to fish or cut bait. It’s time to reinvigorate this blog, or close it down for good.

I think reinvigorating it (to some degree) would do my heart and mind a bit of good. I’m in the middle of my first pastorate (without actually being a pastor – it’s complicated), and need a space to just be. Just being doesn’t happen a whole lot when you’re running from a meeting in a city an hour drive away, to a church council meeting, then to the local nursing home. Just being takes a back seat to the endless e-mails, mountain of administrative paperwork, and inevitable arrival of Sunday morning (sermon finished or no). 

I occasionally channel my inner Anglican
In this slice of the interwebs, I did a lot of adventure-telling, but also a lot of pondering, musing and being. Who am I, if I’m not “Student” or “Candidate”? 

I’m the Reluctant Seminarian. Or, I was. Now, I’m the Reluctant Pastor. This is a whole new identity with several new restrictions and responsibilities that I couldn’t have imagined or prepared myself for.

You see, as the Reluctant Seminarian, I was firm in the conviction that I was most certainly, under no circumstances, never, not ever going to serve as a Sunday morning preacher. Maybe an Associate Pastor of Groovy Young Adults or Social Justice Outreach who preaches when the Important Head Pastor is away, but certainly not as the head, let alone only, pastor of a church. No, no, no, I was training specifically for University chaplaincy and Higher Ed ministry. It’s where I became a Christian after all, and it’s where I feel most called (more on that later).

But, God has a funny way of doing things. Never mind that by the time I graduated seminary I had served at three colleges (one of them in England!). Never mind that I wanted to stay in a big city so I could continue my involvement in interfaith relationship building and maybe meet a spouse that shares similar religious/political leanings. Never mind that I’m still 3 Ordination exams and 1 exegesis class away from being eligible for Ordination. Never mind that I didn’t grow up in church and still occasionally feel like a foreigner trying desperately to learn the language and customs.

Never mind it one bit.

God picked me up and plunked me down in Livingston, Alabama (never heard of it? Me either) to be the “Interim Student Pastor” or “Temporary Supply Pastor” or “Interim Temporary Supply” (this has been of some serious debate) of the First Presbyterian Church (see them here). 

How I got here is a wonderfully delightful story of Methodist connectionism working to benefit a poor Presbyterian seminary graduate. Suffice it to say: God moved people – some of whom had to be pushed rather firmly – to a place where me and all my rule-bending exceptionalism could pastor this small church. I still marvel that this church could see anything in a mile-a-minute talker with practically no parish experience, but they asked me, they fought to get approval from Presbytery (which itself was in a bit of tumult with it’s now ex-Exec Presbyter), and they have supported me whole-heartedly since my arrival in September. I still am amazed by the people who put their faith in my – a not-yet- 27-year-old ministry novice who is still shaky behind a pulpit – abilities to guide and shepherd them as they begin the search process for a long-term call. And I still wonder at a God who has taken me to these reluctant places again and again. I never know quite what is in store!

There are many stories to tell. Like the time a Baptist lady, upon discovering that I am unmarried, asked me if I fool around (I kid you not). There’s much catching up to be done, like  about moving to a village-hamlet that has only about 1% (you read that correctly) the population of my former metropolitan home. But for now I will just be: the return of the Reluctant Seminarian. Or perhaps the baptism by fire of the Reluctant Pastor.
Either way, here I am Lord.

No comments:

Post a Comment