While my New Year’s sort-of-resolution was to blog more I’ve been silent since my first post at this new location until now. And as the title suggests there’s a good reason for that. Back in January I preached for the Call to St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Ancaster (Hamilton) Ontario.
The Presbyterian way of calling ministers from one congregation to the next tends to be a fairly slow process (though parts of the process can move quite quickly) and one which requires confidentiality. All of this means that though I received the unanimous support of the congregation on January 10th, the call didn’t become official until both Presbyteries approved it. Which happened past week.
So, while many people have been told in person or through private correspondence I haven’t said anything online until now. The upside is that this has given me a chance to reflect a little on how this call has worked out and what the Spirit has been trying to show me through all of this.
One of the things I’ve noticed is both how similar the process has been from my call to Norval Presbyterian back in 2010 and how incredibly different it has been. The common element (and one I’m deeply grateful for) is how God has made his hand quite clear in all of this. There have been so many little hints (and a few big ones) along the way that it is truly Christ calling me to be the minister of St. Andrew’s at this moment in time. It was the same with Norval. Both times the whole process has felt completely Spirit led.
At the same time, there is one huge difference. Back in 2010 I was a new grad simply being called somewhere. Here in 2016 I am being called away from one congregation even as I am being called to another. This time I’m saying goodbye as well as hello. This time their’s grief along with the joy.
Ministry is a funny thing (in more than a few ways). As a minister, priest or pastor you tend to form such deep relationships with people in the time you lead and care for a congregation, but when and if (and for most people it’s when) you find yourself called elsewhere you have to let those relationships go. For the long term health of the congregation and whoever succeeds you, you have to. Suddenly you have to walk away from all these people who formed such a big part of your life, and have played such a big role in your spiritual journey (especially if it’s your first congregation or parish as Norval was for me).
With one week to go before I formally take up my minstry at St. Andrew’s I am filled with great excitement and anticipation. I have such hopes for my ministry among and alongside the people I have met as I have discerned my call there. And yet on one level it all feels so strange, and I continue to feel sadness along with the joy of a new beginning.
So here we go. Hello and goodbye. Such is life in ministry. But, God willing, I hope it’s a long time before I have to walk this road again.