I have no doubt that I will keep doing ministry, though. I will keep on with my online community. I will keep making local connections. I'll finish that work I keep promising to finish for Presbyterian Women online. I'll keep pushing for this youth collaboration I dearly would love to make happen. I'll preach when and where I can, because I love it. I'll do spiritual direction. I'll lead retreats. Somehow it will be enough, and Christ's love will flow through this work, because Christ's love always flows through our work. And that is what we are called to.At the time that I wrote I was sure that I had made the right decision to settle down into this pinpoint on a map, but I wasn't sure how I was going to make it all happen. I'm the first to admit that I don't have it all worked out, and the finances of being a "free agent" (aka "tentmaker" or "itinerant preacher") are a bit tricky.
But a lot has happened in six weeks--a lot that astounds me. I'm still taking my salsa class, for one. So for those of you wondering, here is what my current "call" looks like. Or rather I should say, here is how I am using my gifts to both pay the bills and answer Christ's call on my life. Some of this stuff pays the bills. Some of it doesn't pay at all. All of it is bringing me joy.
--Church Planting: Bruce Reyes-Chow announced today a new Presbyterian church plant, and I'm excited to be part of the leadership team for it. It will be "a church online", meaning it will be a church utilizes social media as its primary communication tool, allowing for an organic mix of online and face to face worship, pastoral care, fellowship, and study. We don't have all the details or structure in place--that will form intentionally as the church forms. (And if you'd like to be part of this, here's the facebook group)
--Youth Ministry: I was invited this weekend to work with two local churches and their joint youth ministry program. I'll post which churches after we get all the details worked out. I'm very excited to be working with youth again--I have missed it since leaving California.
--Campus Ministry: I started helping out with some local college ministry, which I've enjoyed immensely. Small group Bible study, weekly worship, fellowship and meals, tutoring in Trenton, a prison ministry, a Gospel choir, and LGBTQ group. This is one of those things I said I'd "never" do: college ministry. This just goes to show: never say never. The Almighty has a dreadful sense of humor.
--L.O.G. Retreat Program: I have been working on a collaborative project to bring the Love Of God (L.O.G.) retreat program to New Jersey. The L.O.G. program in South Bend, IN has agreed to bring a team of students to New Jersey to help us get started, and I've been working with several pastors to try to get this going. We now have a church that will host us, and a tentative date in early August. There's a lot more work to be done on this, but it looks like we might pull it off. This is a sister L.O.G. program to the one I was part of in California.
--Pulpit Supply: Here and there I've been preaching in churches. This Sunday I'll be preaching at Lawrence Road Presbyterian Church at 8:30 and 11:00am. If you're around, you should come join us. My last few sermons can be found here. I miss the weekly discipline of writing sermons, but am enjoying the opportunity to preach when I get the chance.
--Retreats: I am co-leading a retreat March 16-18 at Kirkridge Retreat Center in Bangor, PA with the Rev. Will Humes from First United Methodist in Pottstown. Our theme will be brokenness, and we'll spend a couple of days reflecting on reconciling the pieces of our lives, seeking the presence of God in what seem to be impossible circumstances. I believe there are a few spaces still available if you'd like to join us. Just shoot me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The last two years I have participated in a fascinating retreat space called Unconference. Unconference 2012 is being held in two different locations: I will be attending Unco East, May 21-23, at Stony Point Conference Center. Unco West will be held July 30-August 1, at San Francisco Theological Seminary. Unco started in 2010 as a group of 30 or so individuals gathered on twitter. We all agreed that the best part of conferences were the unscheduled times of fellowship and networking. We decided to create a conference that wasn't a conference to give ourselves the space for creativity and fellowship to mutate freely. If you want to talk about it, there's room for that at Unconference. Hope to see some of you there.
--Spiritual Direction: I have started offering spiritual direction. I'm just beginning this--or rather I am just beginning to formalize what I have done informally in the past. There is an art to intentional spiritual direction, and I'm hoping to delve deeper into this. I've participated in spiritual direction in one form or another since 2005, and I find it to be a beautiful experience. Ask me about it sometime.
--Writing: I'm continuing to blog, of course. One of my sermons will be published sometime soon in a collection of sermons put together by Shook Foil Books. I'm working on other writing projects--a bit slowly, but surely.
--Art Journal: At the beginning of February, desperately seeking some structure in my free-wheeling life, I decided to start journaling using a daily lectionary. I had supposed I would write, but the first day a short phrase from the scripture leapt out at me in the form of an image. So I started to draw. This project intrigues me because I would have told you last month that I can't draw. But this month I would tell you I'm an artist. Somewhere in the last few years I forgot that I can learn new skills. Here's a link to last week's set of drawings: Art Journal, February 20-26, 2012.
So that's it. That's all. As I look at it on paper, it all seems much busier than I was last year, but all of the pieces fit together, in and around my parenting needs, and within a few miles of my home. It feels good to be settling into this space. It's great to pay the bills. And while it is not a traditional pastoral "call" I nevertheless believe I am called to each of these pieces and to the whole.
For the record, this does not resemble what I thought I'd be doing after seminary. Not in the slightest.
And I'm grateful to the network of people who made this possible.