samedi, avril 07, 2007

My voice or yours?

Dear readers,

I don't know how much I've told you about Pastor Chad and Pastor Tina. Chad is the head pastor at St. Matthew's Lutheran, and Tina is the associate. Chad gives the appearance of being very relaxed, and he probably is, even when he's hanging out with his two young daughters and flight attendant spouse.

Nonetheless, he has been bold in making an old, rather insular country church into a magnet for young families in our increasingly suburban area. He is a gifted preacher whose love of anecdotes and distaste for manuscripts (a good but risky strategy for a minister) usually seems to result in sermons that nourish and provoke at the same time. Chad has not pushed me to get involved at St. Matthews, but has been encouraging and gracious when I asked to be a part of church activity.

His colleague Tina is a good complement to him. Tina is energetic, cheerful, and organized (well, most of the time). Sliding into church two minutes before or after when I am supposed to serve, I am usually greeted by her calm, open smile.

For the past five years I have felt like a nomad, a pilgrim in self-imposed exile, in the church world. A number of factors, both internal and external, have made it fairly easy not to step up to the plate again.

But Chad's welcome, Tina's warmth, the increase in the parishioner names we recall and the kids we know-all of these have contributed to my sense of comfort. Sometimes I have a sneaky suspicion that God thinks comfort can lead to complacency...and He doesn't seem to be a huge advocate for either the complacent or even particularly for certain forms of comfort (although He never said anything about dark chocolate).

Last night, I faced the reality that 0ver the past year and a half, St. Matthew's has become (perhaps "is becoming" is more accurate) our church home.

As I knelt in prayer last night after the Maundy Thursday service and thought about the service, something in me (not to be any more specific than that) said- "You belong here. This is where you have always belonged." And, more scary...this is who you are.

Yikes. Maybe the voice that came from within was just mine.

But, just for the sake of argument... if it was Someone elses? Then I have a lot of questions!

So what does "here" mean, voice? A more prominent role as a volunteer in ministry at St. Matthews? Helping out more in a diocese (Episcopal) riven by factionalism and disenchantment?

Do I need to take that voice seriously, God? Be gentle with me, please. It's only been five years.

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