Today is an anniversary for me! It's not the one I usually think about this time of year, though (that one is 2 days from now, and, as has been the case more often than not, Brock and I will again be apart on our wedding anniversary...welcome to life in ministry!).
Nope, I am thinking in these late hours of June 12th about another anniversary in my life. Eight years ago today I was ordained an Elder in full connection in The United Methodist Church. It was Pentecost Sunday. It was awesome.
I never meant to become a pastor, though. I only did it after a few years of resistance to the call and because I could no longer do anything else.
I serve in a church that is a human institution, broken in many ways. I have hope for the future of that church, and I have hurt for so much that is going on within it. Some folks think I am wrong for some things I believe. Terms like unorthodox, heretical, disobedient, and even rebelling against God get put out there when people who disagree with me talk about people like me--someone who believes in the full inclusion of members of the LGBTQIA+ community in the life and leadership of the church. In 10 years under appointment, I have been called these things and so many worse things, all by people IN the church. I don't wonder why so many people my age and younger stay away from the church. There are times I have only gone to church because I had promised to keep showing up...because I was the pastor.
God has never stopped showing up, though. The Holy Spirit hasn't quit breathing into the broken fragments of all our lives. The disturbing and disruptive winds of Pentecost still blow. I have trouble believing that the Holy Spirit works things out by 53% to 47% votes. I have trouble believing that the Holy Spirit condemns young people, like several of my students, whose faith bears fruit far beyond their years, just because of whom they are attracted to. I'm not comfortable with a lot of things about my church right now...but I imagine that may just be where the Holy Spirit needs me (and all of us?) to be, for the winds to blow some more.
So, I guess I'll wait and see what happens next. And I will trust in God's grace to lead me, like I did 8 years ago on Pentecost...like I did 2 years before that, when I was commissioned and started serving my first 2 little country churches...like I did 6 years before that when I said to my campus minister, "Um...what do I need to do if I think maybe God is calling me into ordained ministry?"...like I did when I was 13 years old and my pastor asked me to decide if I was ready to be confirmed...
The Holy Spirit sure does get in there and mess things up, sometimes. Tonight, I am thankful for that, as scary and uncertain and wonderful and awesome as it is. So here's to 8 or 10 or 30 more years, trying to follow where you're blowing, Holy Spirit. I sure am tired, and I have no idea where this thing is going, but if you're in it, I want to be in it, too. Come, Holy Spirit. Amen.