. . . don't know where I'll be tomorrow."
Well, as of January 28, it's official. I will be moving this year. The congregation voted to de-fund the Associate Pastor position at the church I serve, to try to be responsible to a projected deficit. It was a close vote, and I can see the reasonableness of both sides, when expressed without personality prejudices. I also freely admit I have a few of those prejudices, myself. I'm human, we all have them.
Through this process, I have seen both the best and the worst of what we are as Christians in the 21st century. I have seen youth act more adult and proactive than their elders. I have seen serious discussions among people of good will, and I have seen craven displays of political wrangling to achieve desired outcomes that have nothing to do with God, the church, or growth in grace.
In other words, I have seen the whole of the body of Christ.
When I was ordained to be an Elder in the United Methodist Church, I pledged to be available to go where I am sent by the Bishop. I give thanks to God that the history of this conference gives consideration to their Elder's family situation, but nonetheless, I could be sent anywhere around the cities of Wilkes Barre or Scranton in PA, or Binghamton or Oneonta in NY. And because of the size of this conference, I am leaving perhaps one of only two or three associate pastor positions left in the conference. The clearer way of saying this is I AM ABOUT TO GET MY OWN CHURCH!
Being an itinerant religious leader in our post-modern time I think lends itself to two images. First, the corporate manager who travels to serve the Corporation best wherever it may be. Second, the wandering wise one/griot/wizard. Guess which one I prefer? A line from JRR Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" has become very important for me, recently, I even have it on a button: "Not All who Wander Are Lost". This is how I choose to see the Methodist itineracy.
While I am sad about the strife that Shavertown has in front of it, I do hope that these past few months have brought close the realization that they need to address deep hurts, hurts that are 30 years old and more. I surely can help lay the ground work for good outcomes, but it has been made very clear that I will not be part of the eventual solution! I also hope they will take on the challenge of bringing outside conflict resolution in to help heal itself. Right now all sides are at the place of "we'd be just fine if THEY would just stop what they're doing." Well, the body of Christ has no THEY. Just WE. My hope is that Shavertown learns that soon.