Five years ago, I found myself in a position where I was a church member without a pastor and a school teacher (at a Christian school) without a campus minister. In both instances, I was able to step in and help with “next steps.” The campus ministry vacancy is still an issue. The pastoral vacancy was filled for a time (until last May). Tonight we begin what could be the final stages of filling that position again.
It’s odd, being in such a situation twice. It definitely tests some of your presuppositions about things. About yourself, yes. And about other people. And also, maybe mostly, about institutions and practices. And that’s not a bad thing, though it can be sobering. If nothing else, it should bring some clarity and focus. (If not, we must remember what the Armorer told the Mandalorian: persistence without insight will lead to the same outcome). And I definitely feel like I’ve gained insight from these last few months and years. And while some similarity in outcome is okay, a total similarity would not be good.
The tricky thing is that said insight involves institutional living. Institutional living involves things beyond our control. And such things also involve investment, commitment, and a sublimation of “the personal.” And I get that. But at some point, the personal has to matter because it’s always there. Covidtide has been a time where I’ve had to give up some responsibilities for things that I loved for things that I felt were necessary. I find myself at peace (and with some relief) about those things given up. But I also find myself holding things that I’ve considered “necessary” or “more important” but that I cannot hold on to any longer. And that makes moving forward something that requires some subtlety and nuance.
I’m excited about this weekend. And I’m hopeful that we can fill our pastoral position at church. Just like I’m hopeful that one day we will fill the ministry position at school. I look forward to being done with the responsibilities that I’ve taken on in connection with both. But I’ve also felt that way before. I’m hopeful that, in the long run, this time will be different.
(image from dorksideoftheforce.com)