Jan 162012
 

At least I’m beginning to know what to think. After the ‘confusion‘ of last week, I am pleased to report that that has now given way to a mixture of excitement and trepidation – and there’s no confusion; that’s exactly how I feel.

Sunday was the ‘big day’, preaching as sole nominee at Kirriemuir: St. Andrew’s l/w Oathlaw Tannadice (must program a shorcut key to type that lot) [oh, and I’d link to the website but it seems to have exceeded some quota or other and isn’t working – an opportunity to move it to some more reliable, free hosting {me, in other words} I think]. Did it all go smoothly? No! I had a few glitches, of my own making. Managed to skip a hymn, but that helped claw back some time since I’d gone on a bit long, and so we finished on time after all. Struggled a bit to connect with the kids on the second service. Forgot to take water to the pulpit so had a bit of a dry throat at one point. And various other little hiccups that probably weren’t really noticed, or if they were, people were too polite to say so.

But, in the end, none of that mattered. The votes were counted and a unanimous decision was returned. We heard the enthusiastic applause as the result was announced and received the same when we went out to say hello officially. I can say that I was utterly overwhelmed. The warmth of the welcome and the enthusiasm was obvious and I still couldn’t quite believe that they had accepted me.

The rest of the day passed in a bit of a blur. We had lunch with some folks from the churches and had a good look round the manse. I think my brain had shut down by that point and I was running on autopilot. By the time we got home I was absolutely shattered and felt totally drained.

It’s really only today that it has started to sink in that it’s time for a change. As messages and calls of congratulation hit the pone, txt, email and Facebook, the sense of joy and excitement gradually started to make its way into my own head and I’ve been going around in a mild state of euphoria for most of the day. There’s still a slight sense of unreality about it all. The whole process must be the most bizarre way of getting a job anywhere. There’s always one more ‘thing’ to happen it seems. For me now that is settling on a date for ordination and induction. That’s likely to be the 23rd of February, but the date’s not fixed yet. That’s far enough away to give me time to prepare, but scarily close to realise that real life, and real ministry, kicks in very soon. That’s the trepidation part.

But, for now, I can enjoy the setting aside of confusion and think about what an exciting next phase of life and ministry is about to begin.

Jan 092012
 

With less than a week to go until I preach as sole nominee at Kirriemuir: St. Andrew’s l/w Oathlaw Tannadice, I find my emotions and thoughts in a state of turmoil. In a very real sense I don’t know what to think.

There’s the natural anxiety of preparing for such an event (and all my classic stress triggers and reactions are there); yet the rational part of me is saying that I’m not doing anything different to what I would do any other Sunday morning I’d be leading a service. And of course that’s true – it’s just that’s there’s the added pressure of knowing that two congregations will be deciding if I am to be their minister for the next while. (And that in itself is a somewhat bizarre situation – voting based on an hour leading a service to determine who will be involved in their life for far more than that.) But leading services is what I have done, in large part, for quite some time and I know that I am perfectly capable of doing so competently. And so there is a mix of anxiety and confidence and that it exactly what I would expect, so, in a sense, it’s what I would expect to be thinking and is not, therefore, a problem.

So where does the problem lie?

Everyone has been enormously supportive and I have had all the usual ‘it’ll all be fine’ comments from lots of people. And there’s a big bit of me that says/knows that, yes, it will all be fine. And that’s the root of the problem, I think. I don’t want it to feel that it’s a foregone conclusion. There’s a bit of me that feels that that is almost arrogant (but not really), yet it’s born of a confidence, not only in my competence, but the unanimous decision of a nominating committee, the good references from previous supervisors, and even the words of encouragement from people associated with the vacancy itself.

Oh yes, there’s also the big issue of ‘call’. After all, that’s the very root of my being here in the first place. And even that all feels ‘right’, for reasons I’ve explored in other posts and for all sorts of other reasons I haven’t mentioned but all affirm this call, and this place, and this ministry.

When all these things are brought together it’s difficult not to feel confident and positive about the whole thing. But I don’t, as I’ve said, want that to tip over into arrogance. And I don’t think it will. There’s still enough humility there to hold me back (I think, and even though it doesn’t necessarily sound like there is) and there’s also a sense in which this confidence has its proper ‘place’.

I was praying about this very issue and about my conflicted emotions and as I did so, I sensed an overwhelming affirmation of being in this ‘place’, emotionally. It’s difficult to explain – it was, itself, a rush of ’emotion’ that was both uplifting and humbling; a sense that it was understood, and accepted, and ‘allowed’, and was, therefore, ‘right’.

So I will, no doubt, continue to walk my tight line of confidence and humility. And I will continue to feel conflicted about it. But I can stop over-analysing it. It’s not something to be picked apart and have a decision made one way or another. It is simply how I am and who I am. It’s also good to know that who I am and how I am right now is quite fine with God, who calls me. Now that does sound arrogant, but I can’t help myself.

Jan 012012
 

I’m not given to writing retrospectives, so this isn’t a look back on last year (which was, to be fair, eventful enough). Rather, this marks the start of a year (and more) of very new things indeed.

I’ve also been a bit reluctant to blog about the most recent developments in my application process. The last time I blogged it was to note that things were progressing. Well, they have now progressed to the point where I shall be preaching as sole nominee on the 15th of January at Kirriemuir: St. Andrew’s linked with Oathlaw Tannadice. The main reason I’ve been reluctant to blog about it is that I don’t really want to settle into a sense of complacency about it, or to give any sense of it being a foregone conclusion. It felt that writing about it would be, in a bizarre sense, a betrayal of trust. However, it’s now public knowledge that I will be preaching as sole nominee and so, admitting it here isn’t a big deal. That said, I still don’t want to feel complacent about it, despite the reassuring noises from all and sundry.

As that date races into view though, and as phone calls and emails start coming in to make tentative arrangements for an ordination and induction, the reality of major upheaval in the near future is beginning to dawn on me. There’s the logistics of moving – but having to keep the current house going so that school can be finished. There’s also the daunting prospect of settling into a first charge – getting to know people, avoiding upsetting familiar routines (initially anyway), planning, doing, rushing around mad wondering why on earth I ever thought this was a good idea.

There’s a bit of me that wants to hold back and hide behind the idea that ‘it’s not settled yet!’ After all, I still have to be voted for by the two congregations. and yet, when I get a church calendar in the post, with the encouraging message that it’s for my new study, then it all seems a little less daunting (if still somewhat presumptuous) and I can let a bit of the excitement sneak through. And I am excited. I’ve met some of the people and, I think, made a good connection – one which I’m keen to develop. The area is beautiful. The churches are keen to develop. There’s some great work being done as part of a wider area ministry. School chaplaincy work. And the list goes on. All exciting and appealing.

In may ways it’s not what I had initially been looking for, but any so many more ways, it’s more than I’d considered. And perhaps the biggest clincher is that it has been received very positively by everyone in the family. That’s always been a big part in my discernment of the ‘you’ll just know’ advice that has come from many quarters. And that’s exciting too, because it is vindication of lots of advice and direction and prayerful consideration.

So, a new year; soon a new start. But, first things first – I still need to decide what to preach on on the 15th.

May 282008
 

… or so I’m told.

It would appear that I have just agreed to be convener of a presbytery vacancy procedure committee. Quite what this involves I have no idea but I am assured it is not too onerous. I have a wodge of paperwork to read through to get my head round it and offers of assistance from others to keep me on the straight and narrow. What concerns me is that vacancies aren’t always filled promptly, so this may well drag on for some time.

Still, in one respect, it will be good experience as it’s something I’ll be on the receiving end of in due course.

Ho hum! Off to read Act VIII, 2003. Send out a search party if I don’t return.