It has been almost a year since I last posted a blog last month. It feels like it anyway. Since then, I have been a leading part of worship services, witnessed one of my best friends get engaged in my dining room on New Years Eve, visited my father-in-law as he was diagnosed with cancer, and have had some difficult moments professionally.
I have two sermons from Christmas to post yet, and I will be getting to them soon.
The Christmas eve services were great, as they are supposed to be. I was in charge of the early family friendly services, and got great feedback! Specifically, people loved that I used Linus' soliloquy from "Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown" as my reading of the Luke 2 passage. Some folks said that that was the only moment in the service when all the children were quiet!
There was another, later, service on Christmas Eve. I assisted in the service, then was up til about 1:30 wrapping presents and sitting with Donna. Basically it was a matter of letting the adrenaline peter out of my system. My son of course was up by about 5:30, but he did a great job of being patient until we were all up. After presents I made breakfast, and then, as Donna says, I "dissapeared". I had gone back to bed.
Donna's dad was diagnosed with cancer later that week, and so we ran there for a couple days, saw him in the hospital and Donna helped her mom distract herself. His big surgery is mid-January, so prayers for him are requested. It is a slow moving cancer and is localized.
When we got back, My friend Morissa and her boyfriend Jason came to visit. Let me explain a little bit about Morissa. she and I know each other from college, and became friends after I was a peacekeeper in an Anti-Klan rally that she had helped organize. She has come to visit us almost every New Years' since Donna and I were married, even when we lived in Texas. We give her Christmas presents, she gives us Hanukah presents. We have a Mezuzah on our door, a gift from her. the last two years, she has brought her boyfriend Jason with her.
We usually have a nice New Year's Party, but because of us just having been away, we called everyone we invited and explained that we pretty much needed to crash when we got home.
We forgot to call one couple, who came over, and it was nice to have them there. They are good enough friends that the condition of the house didn't embarass them or us.
Jason was planning on popping the question to Morissa that night, as it turned out. He had worked on a digital animation to do the deed, and there was a last minute panic that our home computer wouldn't run the video. We got it worked out, though, and she was thrilled!
Because of what I do for a living, sometimes I receive the blame from the problems of the church that existed long before I arrived. There has been a good bit of that these past couple weeks, but I am blessed to be working for a church where the members know these people. They are not dismissed, but neither do they get much traction, because the source is considered. Still, I have had more than my share of sadness and anger for the first two weeks of a new year.
Here's to hoping that that was the worst distraction of the year, but I don't know. In talking with a friend yesterday, we were complaining that there always seems to be ministry that isn't getting done because there are fires to put out. I think that is partially true, but I also think it is true that to be a minister in this congregation is to walk with them as the pain of the past heals or is cut out. It would be great if 100% of the ministry is directed to mission, education, and spiritual growth, but here there is good bit of triage and the binding of wounds, too. So be it. This won't be the last church I serve where that is true, and if that is part of ministry in my time, then I'd best be about it. Mission, education, and Spiritual Formation can be the goal we work toward.