Advent has been very much on my mind of late - this time of waiting and hoping that we march through every year....and we do march. There's so much going on around us during the "holiday season" that we barely have time to catch our breath. Parties, pageants, and preparations for the 'big day' that is still a month away consume our thoughts, energy, and time. If we're church goers, we may take the time to pause for an hour or so on Sunday mornings and light a candle as we contemplate what it means to wait and anticipate, but after a few hurried conversations during the fellowship hour, we're scrambling out the door to accomplish the next thing on our list. During Advent there's no time to wait, in fact many would claim we need MORE time to prepare.
Thankfully for me, this is the first Advent season in 8 years that I haven't felt the impending deadlines of the end of a school semester. I don't have 5 papers hanging over my head and 2 weeks left to write them. That part of my journey is over. And I'm equally thankful that I no longer work retail. For most of my adult life there was no Advent. Christmas began on Black Friday and went by in a blur of extended work hours, constant crowds and increasing consumer demands (I need it now!). I spent my days surrounded by Christmas decorations with an endless loop of Christmas music playing in the background. I wasn't waiting for Christmas to arrive, I was waiting for it to be over so I could finally put my feet up and relax.
But this year, Advent for me truly is about waiting and anticipation.
Last month I retitled my blog "...In Transition" - because I am no longer "The 45-year-old Seminarian." I'm still 45 (at least for a few more months), but since I've graduated from seminary I no longer have the distinction of calling myself a seminarian. And I can no longer call myself a "Member in Discernment" in the United Church of Christ. I have been approved for ordination and thus I've "graduated" out of that system of preparation as well. As I search for my first call, I find myself in this in-between place that does not have a definable and recognizable label. I've been bumping into this as I've been doing supply preaching to fill this time of "in between" - I see it in the puzzled looks and inquiries I get in the churches where I preach - "You've graduated, but you're not ordained? So what are you?"
Many do not understand that ordination does not come with graduation, but rather with the first call.
I've received checks made out to "Rev." and been questioned as to why I wear a robe and a cross while preaching, but not a stole.
And then I must explain, it's because I'm not there yet.
But I will be.
In the meantime, I will wait.
I will enjoy this Advent, this time of anticipation of what is to come.
And I have plenty to do while I wait.
In two weeks, I'm headed up to New Hampshire to begin an extended supply preaching job that will last through Christmas and possibly into January.
If they don't need me in January, there's a church here in CT that has asked me to supply preach for them that month, and I've received several inquires from other churches about my availability in February.
Of course my hope is that I won't be available in February.
My Profile has been sent to all the UCC Conferences in my search area and I'm in the process of having it sent to the churches that have openings and have peeked my interest because I think we might be a good fit for each other. That's the first step.
The next step is to determine whether or not we both agree it would be a good fit, and ultimately, if God agrees.
This process can and often does take a long time. That's where the waiting comes in.
I can't think of a better way to celebrate this season of Advent.
In the meantime, prayers are requested for tonight.
I have a Skype interview with the Search Committee at a church that just may be the right fit I'm looking for....that we're both looking for.
May God be with us all.