Monday, July 24, 2006

That's why I want to do this ministry thing...

I supplied this weekend at a rural church where one of my favorite former profs is pastor. On Thursday, my friend, B, cut the meat of his thumb pretty badly and asked me to cover for him. Poor guy, he really did a number on his hand - at least he's getting great drugs... Because of other things on the agenda on Thursday and Friday, I wasn't able to begin the sermon in earnest until Saturday. I was concerned about being able to provide the text (and the congregation) a faithful proclamation. But I was lucky - this was one of those weeks when the Spirit seemed to type through my fingers and put the words together for me.

On Saturday afternoon, I headed to the 5 o'clock service. The church is about an hour away and I had a nice drive, during which I was able to both ponder and let my thoughts wander. I got to the church and let myself in (how awesome is this - they never lock the church). I could not find the main light switch for the life of me. Of course, I could find every obscure light switch - just not the one I truly needed! Two ladies showed up shortly after I arrived and they turned the light on. They gave me the "you silly girl, how could you miss that!?!" treatment that Midwesterners seem particularly adept at providing.

The two ladies, G and M, were the congregation for the Saturday night service. We confessed and absolved and sang and read Scripture. Then came the sermon. What a hoot! Now, it's a bit strange to preach for a congregation of 2. Additionally, M, who is hard of hearing, decided to interupt me numerous times to share her related (and unrelated) insights into what I was saying. At about paragraph 2 (loosely - I gave up the manuscript after the 2nd sentence), M hollered to G (as if I wasn't there and wasn't talking), "Hey, that reminds me of the Bible study story from Thursday. What was that story???" G calmly answered with a short description of the story. "Huh..." M replied, "I guess that actually has nothing to do with the sermon..." With that, I continued on a sentence or two, attempting to get through the story in the sermon. M interupted again with, "I've been to that town in Germany. Let's would've been in XX (whatever year she said)...I went with so and so and, oh, that Wartburg Castle - what a site!" Then G chimed in, "I went there with George in the 70s. What a great trip..." Then she began to share insights from that experience. Somehow, I was able to roll her story into the point of the sermon. Basically from this point, we ended up talking and lightly touching on the text and sermon theme. They shook their heads knowingly on the few theological insights I suggested. Then we sang Amazing Grace, did a creed (they went back and forth about which one we should do after I announced the Apostles Creed: "We haven't done the Nicene Creed in awhile" "True, but it's so long..." "Oh, let's do it anyway...." "Well...I dunno. What do you think pastor?") and all the other liturgical followings. We sang the doxology and chatted as we left.

Somehow through the experience, though, I was reminded that this is so truly what I want to be doing. My thoughts were no longer turned inward focusing on anxieties and unknowns. Building relationships, walking with people and meeting them where they're at - this is what I'm yearning to do. Laughing together, hearing all about M's rosacea, poison ivy and past surgeries within the first 5 minutes of meeting her, learning the peculiarities of the congregation - this is what I can't wait to do. I want to be a pastor and I know I will be. This waiting, however, stinks. I know logically that the right call will emerge exactly when and how and where God intends. I just think God's timing and mine are unsyncronized. Big surprise, right? Maybe I should buy God a calendar showing when the kids' school year starts, how long it takes to line up moving trucks, how long the process of purchasing real estate takes, etc, etc.

I also supplied at the same church on Sunday. It was also a great experience. I think the congregation numbered 12. I was able to catch each eye during the sermon, and the group that I was told was stoic and not talkative, raved about the service and the sermon. During the sermon, they laughed at the right moments (but didn't interupt at all!). They were chatty, warm, and so welcoming.

The 14 or so people of Small Country Church in Small Town, Iowa, ministered to me on Sunday without even knowing it. Through them, God reminded me to hang in there. God reminded me that I am cut out for this gig and that my time will, in fact, come. Through those 14 faces, I once again encountered the reality of God's call to me. Thanks be to God.


mark said...

I'm glad that they could communicate to you what most of us have known all along.
Yay for them and Yay for you!!!

Skdo said...

Most? Ok, I want names. Who wasn't sure? Ha ha...