As I am nearing retirement from the itinerant ministry, three biblical characters have come knocking at the door reminding me that others have walked the paths I traverse before me.
For an assignment in seminary, in free verse form, I reflected on the call of Abraham to leave the land he knew to go to a place he had never been. Growing up I had decided that I was going to be an engineer—like my father. I was good at math and at putting things together, and I adored my father.
This career path took a turn when I realized that I was called to “work with people not things,” as I expressed it. Since I had never met a woman pastor, I assumed my call was to psychology and counseling. An even sharper veer happened when I woke up one morning knowing I was supposed to go to seminary to be a preacher! This was a fairly terrifying realization for someone who trembled like an aspen leaf when I had to give book reports in school.
I found comfort in reflecting on Abraham who with Sarah trekked from the land of their families to a place they had never seen. If they could do something so hard, so could I.
Another transition point on the journey came as I went on family leave necessitated by how untenable life had become with Jeff and I going opposite directions every Sunday morning and for special evening services while I had full care for the boys at my church, especially in dealing with one with oppositional defiant issues. [I guess untenable situations bring on run-on sentences!]
After six months, I was asked to become the interim campus minister for the local state college. Little did I know that I would become somewhat entangled and even vilified as homophobic because of tensions between various members of the cooperating denominations on the board. Seeking to be truly inclusive for all took on a strange twist as I was told that conservatives could go elsewhere. Esther became a touchpoint for me as Mordecai challenged her with the awareness that perhaps she was born for such a time as this. I came to understand, as one who does not relish conflict, that I too came for just such a time. This has continued to undergird my sense of ministry.
While I have been at Christ Crossman for sixteen rather than forty years, I have recently found comfort as well as challenge in how Moses was not allowed to cross into the Promised Land with his people. Over the last few months, prospects I have worked towards for the ministry here have opened up just as I am making my transition to leaving. More than I once, even as I celebrated these new possibilities, I have felt a pang of regret that they could not have come earlier when I could have been here to see the fruits of our work together. A wise lay leader here offered me the image of Moses. While I do not plan to be dying as my beloved C2UMC crosses the Jordan, I do have the strong sense that I have come as far as I can and they must go on without me in leadership. I entrust them to God’s care. There are good Joshua figures here who will work with the next pastoral leader, Yunho Eo. Together they will move forward, and I will celebrate from afar.