Saturday, February 13, 2010

Beam me up, Scotty.

I'm supposed to be writing a pastoral prayer for worship tomorrow.
So I thought I'd creak open the rusty door of this blog instead.

My second year in seminary has been much more demanding then my first, and most of that demand is coming from outside the classroom.
I feel as if I'm trying to keep 4 different trains on their respective tracks at the same time. I started the spring semester two weeks ago but I feel as if my classes are just buzzing in the background right now. Field Ed has me hopping: I'm co-leading and preaching at the Ash Wednesday service this week; I've designed a Lenten series that I'll be leading every Sunday in March; in April I'll be leading an entire service on my own (not new for me, but a big deal for my Field Ed church which has never before let the 'newbie' take full hold of the reigns); and I just finished my mid-year review with my supervisor and the Teaching Parish Committee that oversees my Field Ed. I had to review their performance as a teaching site as well, which forced me to confront some issues that have been frustrating me all year. I felt as if I was being underutilized and I was not being included in particular aspects of ministry that I knew my classmates were fully involved in at their field ed sites. Thankfully, the conversations I had with the TPC and my supervisor went well, as they were surprisingly open to listening to what I had to say and have pledged to make changes going forward. Ask and ye shall receive....

Behind the Field Ed layer I have a slew of other stuff clamoring for my attention as I move forward in my MDiv program. The school requires us to participate in a "Border Crossing" experience that takes us out of the environment that is comfortable and familiar to us, so I'm scheduled to go on a 12 day trip to Appalachia in May to learn about rural/poverty issues - the application is due next week. My plan is to do my CPE unit (hospital chaplaincy internship) during the fall/spring of next year, and those applications, which involve the writing of multiple reflection essays, have to be sent in now. I'm also due for my mid-program review as I now have 45 credits and I'm half-way through the MDiv program. This involves even more writing and the assembling of representatives from the school faculty, my denomination and my peers, all of who have to be available on the same day and be willing to sit around for two hours discussing my progress and my strengths and weaknesses. Fun, fun, fun!

Behind all of this is the layer that's looming on the horizon this summer. In mid May I begin filling in for my home church pastor while she's on sabbatical. And since I start 2 days after returning from the Appalachia trip, which itself begins a week before the actual end of the semester AND thus has forced me to hand in final papers and take a final exam a week earlier than I had anticipated.....(breathe)....AND I have ton of class stuff due in April wich will now have to get worked on even earlier because of the early finals....(breathe again).....this means I need to get at least the first 2 weeks of sermons/bulletins for the summer services done BEFORE all of this because there won't be time in the craziness that's coming at the end of this semester.

Floating behind all of this is a bunch of personal stuff...
My sister was diagnosed with breast cancer and just had surgery this week (please send prayers); some friends of mine back home are negotiating some difficult relationship issues and they are very much on my mind right now; and....I'm just going to come right out and say it...being away from my wife for months at a time REALLY SUCKS! Not including the week I was home on Christmas break, I think I saw her a total of 5 days last semester. The end of this semester is going to be really crazy but it can't come soon enough.

On the plus side, I attended a UCC Search and Call event yesterday at school that walked us through the process of writing a profile to find a job once we graduate. While looking through a sample church profile from an actual church that is searching for a pastor, I reviewed the list of qualities/abilities that they were looking for in a pastor, and for the first time, I thought, "I have these skills, I can do this."

While just a year and half ago a similar list had me hemming and hawing and backing away from such a claim, I'm really starting to feel that I'm growing into my call.
There are still plenty of things about being a pastor of a church that are unknown to me and thus still have me saying, "Am I crazy for wanting to do this?" but at this point they are outweighed by the things that have me saying, "I can't wait to be able to do this."

I still have a mountain to climb to get to where I want to be, but at least I'm beginning to feel that I have the right equipment to get there.

Now, if I could just clone myself to ensure all the writing I need to do gets done, AND invent a Star Trek style transporter so I can go home every night, then I'd be set.

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