Thursday, May 15, 2008

An appointment!

Here is why I'm in the midst of so many transitions right now: Ben and I have an appointment up in New England! We are going to be the pastors at Good Shepherd UMC in Haverhill, MA! Everything is pretty frantic as we try to get all of our paperwork together, finish papers for seminary (but fortunately that's done), and...move out by May 31st. Our lease runs out at the end of the month, and we're going to be living with Ben's parents for a bit before we can move into the parsonage. We're renting a big huge moving truck and heading back north.

I'm really looking forward to pastoring this church. The community seems really wonderful, and honestly, I am looking forward to being back in New England. We still have one more year left at Drew, and so commuting for that year isn't going to be so much fun, but there are two of us. And lots of podcasts we want to listen to. :-)

I'm sad leaving my current church. Westwood has been a great place for me to learn and grow, and they will always have a special place in my heart.

So that's my bit of news!

Friday, May 02, 2008

I've reached an impasse with my sermon. This is one of those that is struggling to be born, and I haven't had the energy or the willpower to bring it into the world yet. I have two and a half pages, and a few thoughts. I know where I want it to go; just need to see if I can get it there or if God wants something else preached.

I'm looking at John 17 - the whole chapter. I'm struck by how many times during this last prayer Jesus prays "that they may be one as we are one." This oneness has a purpose: so that the world may know of God's love - it's not unity for unity's sake. It's not even about agreement - Jesus didn't pray that the disciples should agree or believe the same things...but that they might be one. That we may be one.

This is the nugget I'm trying to draw out. I'm using General Conference as an example of the apparent disunity of the UMC - the protests and fighting and lack of consensus about issues that deeply divide the church. But deep down...we are still one. We are all still in Christ. We may not understand it. We may not even like it. But we're one...and that means we need to act like it. It doesn't mean that suddenly everyone has to agree, but it means that we have to love our neighbors and each other, transcending disagreements, and look to Christ which binds us together. Perhaps I'll add a bit of Wesley's "A Catholic Spirit" in there.

Arg, but it just isn't coming! Fortunately, I have one more day...

Part of the Ascension Day Scripture from Acts 11 contains this promise from Jesus;

"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Then he was taken from their sight into the clouds, two angels appeared and instructed the probably bewildered disciples to go back to Jerusalem, where they began to wait and to pray for the gift Jesus had promised.

Prayer is a joy to some of us, and a chore to others, waiting likewise can be filled with anticipation or anxiety....

So how do you wait and pray?

1. How do you pray best, alone or with others? Well, I really hate praying aloud (a not so great thing for a pastor, I know), but I pray silently better when there are others around. It helps keep me accountable and focused. Plus, I love the feeling of corporate silence rather than solitary silence (though that's nice on occasion too).

2. Do you enjoy the discipline of waiting, is it a time of anticipation or anxiety? I tend not to wait well. I suppose it's a mix of both...but it really depends on what I'm waiting for.

3. Is there a time when you have waited upon God for a specific promise? Yes! I knew far before my husband did that God had planted something between us.

4. Do you prefer stillness or action? Stillness, for the most part.

5. If (and this is slightly tongue in cheek) you were promised one gift spiritual or otherwise what would you choose to receive? Perhaps this isn't quite a spiritual gift, but I would love to have the gift of extroversion.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Dragging My Feet

I've been so out of touch this semester. I haven't read any blogs, even those that I've really, really wanted to. I haven't talked with friends in ages. I need to get off my lazy butt and call people, e-mail people, write to people, but I'm so tired. Just...tired. And many changes are coming.

I can't write about all of them yet - everything will be official down on this end in a couple of weeks. But it means these next two months will be frantic and hectic, with one small window for a week's vacation. We hope to visit relatives, but honestly, part of me hopes we become vegetables and I have the chance to set the "reset" button.

I've blogged (a little bit) more on http://melissa.bechurchne.org, but I want to play around with the format more. I'm strange like that -- I can't write or put my words out there if I don't have a suitable design or space for it. I'm getting twitchy about redesigning the website (again) because I think there are areas for improvement. Maybe if I redesign it I'll want to blog there more...

...or maybe I'll start all over again. Hah! There's the procrastinator in me talking. I've got a sermon for this Sunday (on Unity of all things...how the heck am I supposed to preach on Unity after General Conference?). I also have a paper for UM Doctrine and Polity on the decline of the Methodist class meeting and how such a system can be reincorporated into church life (my choice of topic). And then a final project for Sweet. And then Matt and Farrah's wedding. And then more sermons and Annual Conference and stuff...

...there is a light at the end of the tunnel. And it isn't a train. I keep having to tell myself that.

So I don't know what has made me so relationally out of touch this past semester. Perhaps I'm settling in tooooo well to married life. Perhaps it's because this church planting thing is starting to take off (I can't remember how many flash trips to New England the four of us made this semester). No matter. I can just try to be better.