Even though I love them, I have never worn hats; my head is so small that they just slip down over my ears. But it seems I have a new one. It started like this:
Late one April evening I was sitting on my kitchen floor waiting on something to finish baking in the oven. Probably I was reading. My phone rang. I had trouble understanding the speaker because the line was full of static, so I didn’t get the caller’s name. I did understand that he was asking me to become the pastor of two rural area churches, though, and I told him no. I was stunned by the request, and texted my pastor after a few minutes, asking if there was something going on that I should know about. This was his reply:
God is calling. You better say your prayers tonight.
Then I really was shaking! I marched in to where my husband was watching TV and told him what had just happened. I was not prepared to hear him say, “Well…if this is God’s will for you, I’ll support you in it.”
Speechless, confused, lost, empty, scared, I felt all of those and more. But because my husband’s response was so opposite of what I had expected from him, I gave myself two days before calling the number back. (I still did not know to whom I had been speaking.) Long story short, life intervened, and it was two weeks before I finally met a man I actually knew to talk about this pastor thing. I ended up saying yes to his plea, but more because I knew how desperate the situation was/is and because I knew this is something I can do. But did I want to?
No, not really. I grew up in a parsonage. I’ve seen what church members are like in their less glorious moments. I know that every church has at least one person who is sure their way is the only way to run a church, never mind about what God thinks! I also knew that I’m looking forward to not working and just being retired, and also what a LOT of work being a pastor entails, even a part-time pastor. No, this wasn’t what I wanted at all.
However, in the long winter days after Christmas, I had told God that I wanted to learn to love Him with all my heart, mind, soul and strength, and I had felt as if I had been waiting for something ever since. So…maybe this was what I had been waiting for – except it wasn’t. I wasn’t waiting for this. True, I had been taking classes to become a lay speaker in the church, someone who can preach on Sunday morning when a pastor has to be away from the pulpit for one reason or another. But I definitely was not working toward a lay minister position. And also true, I had been praying the covenant prayer of John Wesley that begins, “I am no longer my own, but thine. Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt…” but I had not meant to become a pastor.
Whether I meant it or not, I am a pastor now, as well as a driver for a foster care agency, as well as a grandma, and wife, and mom, and sister, and daughter. And all of these take time! It seems my new hat is a thinking cap, because I find myself thinking about sermons and how to make them meaningful for people who have been stuck in one place for a very long time. I wake up each morning with a different hymn or praise chorus running through my head, and that song sets the tone for my day. I don’t do this on purpose, it just happens. I’m new enough to the pastorate that it isn’t comfortable yet, but I do enjoy the thinking and writing that goes with sermon preparation.
And the reason I’m telling you all of this? THIS is why I’ve missed writing so many weekly blogs lately. There is a tremendous! amount of paperwork, etc., etc., etc. that has to be taken care of before one “gets” to be a pastor (and I didn’t ask for any of this), and that has taken precedence. Sorry. Now that things have settled down a bit (I hope!), I will try to renew my usual Wednesday schedule for posting. Thanks for hanging with me.