Monday, February 25, 2008

Breaking the Silence - News! News! News!

I haven't blogged in the last couple of weeks because there has been so much I couldn't say.

On Feb. 8th I learned that the promised March 1 apppointment wasn't going to happen - not at all. That was all I was told. I had no idea what if anything was coming next.

Then a week later, I was presented with an opportunity for a different kind of appointment. I spent a weekend in prayer and very privately consulting a couple of close confidants. The consensus was the new opportunity is a good thing.

Then for the last week, I've been waiting to hear if it would indeed become a reality, and then when it could be public knowledge.

Today everything fell into place, and I'm happy to tell you that I have been appointed to ………… The Conference Office. Yes, you read correctly. I’m staying right where I’ve been assigned temporarily for the last 5 months. It seems that the new director was pleased with what I accomplished and believes I can be an asset to his vision for the Connectional Ministries Office. He requested that I be appointed here, and the cabinet has agreed. This appointment will run at least through June of 2009. It is my hope that it will continue for three years, but in the UMC you only know for a year at a time.

This is good because:
-I am enjoying what I’m doing here. I can see where my gifts and skills will make a difference and be helpful.
-Our family will not be moving in the near future. manBoy will continue his education in suburbia.
- We will maintain our association with and participation at Beloved Home Church. manBoy will stick with the youth leaders he's come to know and love. Gifted & Talented will continue to play in the worship band.
-I will be more available to my family during these last few years with manBoy at home than I would be if I was pastor in a local church.


- But MLR, didn’t you want to pastor a church?
o Yes, I do. But my heart tells me this is not the time. I truly believe this opportunity was given to me for a reason. When I realize I have just over 3 years left with manBoy at home, I know I don’t want to miss them sitting in meetings every evening. Local church pastoring will come in its time.

- Does this mean there wasn’t a church for you?
o Actually, no. The District Superintendent was on his way to talk to me about a church appointment when this came up.

- What about preaching?
o I will still preach some at beloved home church, and for other pastors who need to be gone for one reason or another. I have preached and conducted worship 7 times since September, which is more opportunities than many associate pastors have.

- Will this affect your probationary period for ordination?
o No. This was one concern that the DS checked out very carefully. We didn’t want to do anything to endanger my ordination. I will probably be asked to do some things (like teach and/or preach) in Beloved local church, but this appointment still counts toward my probationary period.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Friday Five: What Are You Doing For Lent?

This is a perfect Friday Five from RevGalBlogPals since I was planning to blog about my Lenten discipline anyway.

1. Did you celebrate Mardi Gras and/or Ash Wednesday this week? How?
Yes, I led my first Ash Wednesday service at a friend's church. I loved it. Once again affirming my call to worship leadership. I preached about being a wretch - starting with a story of manBoy asking me one night as I was singing Amazing Grace, "Mommy, what's a wretch?" I used a good deal of John Newton's life story. He wrote Amazing Grace. It turns out John did have an amazing conversion experience, but continued to captain slave ships afterward. It was only later that his eyes were opened to the evils of slavery. His remorse over his participation in slave trade strongly influenced William Wilberforce who fought long and hard in the English parliament to abolish slavery. (See the movie Amazing Grace.) "I was blind, but now I see" is as much about seeing our own wretchedness as seeing God's redeeming love.

2. What was your most memorable Mardi Gras/Ash Wednesday/Lent?
Last year, I went to Ash Wednesday service at my home church. I had no leadership role, and neither did G&T. We actually sat together as a family. We were in a bad place. G&T had been out of work for 2 and a half months. As I sat and listened to my friend play "The Lord's Prayer" on her violin, I was overcome with the words "Thy will be done." It was a huge letting go. Tears rolled. Peace came. As a post-script, G&T had an interview the next day and a job by the end of the week. But, the peace came first.

3. Did you/your church/your family celebrate Lent as a child? If not, when and how did you discover it?
As an adult. It has become more common to take up Lenten Disciplines in the United Methodist Church in the lat 15-20 years. I began by giving up things I turn to when I'm stressed instead of turning to God (Coke and M&M's the first year).

4. Are you more in the give-up camp, or the take-on camp, or somewhere in between?
It depends on where I am that year, so I guess you can say somewhere in between.

5. How do you plan to keep Lent this year?
I've been struggling with this. I am hoping that my life will take a significant change in the middle of Lent, so I'm looking for something that isn't dependent on my current schedule and habits. Here's the plan. I need more heart time with God. We talk about the passion of Christ, and I need to remember to be passionate about Christ. I live in my head most of the time, and have worked on integrating heart and head for over a year now. I can see that in the last few weeks, I have slipped into head living again. So my Lenten discipline will be to make heart time, and to attend to my heart throughout the day. I don't know what that heart time will look like, because to have heart time, I have to just be with God. I may read Scripture. I may just listen to my meditative music. Mostly, I want to just be in the presence of God.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Ash Wednesday, Lent, and Lint

Tonight I will conduct my first Ash Wednesday Service. I have taken a poll of clergy persons around the conference office and my mentors. Ashes - dry, with water, with oil, with vaseline. I've had many answers. Several say oil. The Bishop says "dry," but two others say "never dry." The pastor at my home church puts a little vaseline around the edge of the phyxis and dabs a little on his thumb as needed. I have assisted him using this method. It's not great, but I may go with what I know. I did stop and by a package of men's hankerchiefs to have something to wipe on as I need it. I have all of 4 hours to figure this out, so if you have a sure fire method, now is the time to comment!

Lent - I've spent so much of my thought energy preparing for this service, I haven't really thought about what my own Lenten discipline will be. What are you doing?

Lint - I'm beginning to feel a little like pocket lint. You know the stuff you pull out of your pockets and throw away? There has been some kind of hold up in the appointment changes, so I still don't know where I'm going or even if I'm still going somewhere on March 1.