Unless linear time stops tomorrow, I'll be able to get to these topics and any other ones that come my way. And knowing my Facebook friends, I'll have plenty more topics to choose from.
I thought, though, that since I've spent a lot of time writing about the past and saying goodbye and homesickness, et. al. (and probably ad nauseum), I should also give some time to the new thing that I am doing and the hopeful future I see before me.
I am the soon-to-be installed Pastor of United Presbyterian Church in Shawnee, OK. And yes, it is, officially, having passed all the state required tests, an awesome church! If there is, indeed, a scale or chart for church awesomeness, than Shawnee has rocketed off it.
I hear you talking amongst yourselves. "Why" you want to know. "Is this really an awesome church or is this just the honeymoon glow talking?"
Certainly I am in a honeymoon phase with my new congregation. People are glad to have me here, along with my family. I still seem new and fresh and exciting. The sermon ideas continue to flow, although some Sundays my creativity seems to eke out more as a trickle than a rushing stream. But so far, so good.
And it is the same for me with the congregation. Their excitement feeds me. They are committed to the life of the church and to the life of this community. I cannot help but admire their commitment, not just to keeping the doors open, but to really doing ministry and living out their faith.
One of the reasons I think this church is awesome is because they have been living, breathing hospitality. One couple gave me a home when I first got here and adopted me into the family. Moving day brought help, groceries and dinner for the evening. We've been invited to lunch, provided with meals, given tickets to the theater, and had more offers of help with moving and getting settled than I could possibly have imagined. The members have not only been concerned with my well being, but they are mindful of the well-being of my family. That means more than I can say.
Most importantly, I think Shawnee is awesome, not because it's perfect, but because it truly is a call. My call. I was told from the very first moment of the interview process that the church has seen hard times. There have been conflicts and declining numbers. The church building is beautiful but old and in great need of repair. Like every smaller church out there, Presbyterian or otherwise, finances are an issue. So, no, the church is not perfect. It has its flaws and foibles and failings like any other congregation. Like any individual. Like me. Yet we're a fit. A match.
The Church Leadership Connection of the PC(USA) did its job well. But then again, so did the Holy Spirit. Thinking about why I love my new church reminds me that the Spirit has worked in my life in countless ways and at countless times. At every good moment and in every low point, the Spirit has been there. I haven't always recognized it or been willing to acknowledge its presence. But I'm grateful nonetheless.
|United Presbyterian Church of Shawnee, OK|