Monday, May 5, 2008
Another turn in the Road
Goodbye, Country Parish. It is hard to say. Yesterday was the blowout farewell fellowship brunch. I think we had enough food to feed the five thousand, if they had been there. Food equals love for this flock ( and my experience in other Lutheran parishes tells me this is not unique).
Things I learned that were not part of the learning expectations but I think only I learned- my classmates have missed out!
1. How to ring the bell for church. Don't pull too hard or it will double-ring. Do fasten the rope when done so that the bell will not swing the cord up into the steeple. Ringing the bell is not a graceful thing.
2. Pickled tongue is a delicacy, and is expected for the Easter breakfast.
3. How to teach and preach with meaning whether the crowd is 3 or 103.
Rural ministry was something I had not experienced since I was a very young child. The flock was slow to warm up to an outsider. But once this is accomplished they are like a warm fuzzy blanket. We had outstanding attendance for the services and for the fellowship, lots of hugs and best wishes. And requests to come back and preach, to attend the confirmation of the one student in a few weeks, to bring the Lutheran Chicks to the Mother Daughter Banquet, and more.
And I wish I could be there, to be a part of these times with them, to continue to be a part of their learning and growing and to see where the road will take them. But this is not to be. And this is why the last couple of weeks, I began to pull back from the things we did together, so they can return to their usual. I hope that they will continue their choir which has grown from three people to 10. I hope they will continue to come to the new Sunday school class. I hope they will put that WELCOME sign over the door on the other side of the building ( where the real parking lot is). I pray they will let the Spirit blow and carry them outside the doors to others in their changing community.
Time will tell whether these things will happen. We must accept that we may not see what the Spirit will bring to fruition. That we plant seeds which others may or may not reap.
But this was also a time of growth for my family. They came once in the fall to see me in the parish. Once this spring to finally see me preach. They came yesterday for the big send-off. Each time a step closer to seeing a new vocation in me. It has not been without challenge, but it has gone well. And my Beloved is well on his way to being a great Pastor's spouse in his way.
Lord, you lead us on journeys of which we do not know the ending, but only that you are leading. Guide us in our journeys and sustain us in all we do that we may be instruments of your will. Amen.