For an announcement to be considered “big news” I believe it must have properties that generate both anxiety and excitement. The one I have to share this morning seems to fit this definition. Pending graduation in May (Lording willing!), this flock of black sheep will be setting off on an adventure that none of us saw coming.
We’re moving to Vermont.
I have accepted “the call” to become the senior pastor at United Church of Lincoln, an American Baptist Church with United Methodist heritage, in the Green Mountain State.
I’ve always preferred “call” language or vocation to the term profession, and that is how I’ve been describing the event which led to my family heading to New England. You see when you deal with a “calling” you start dealing with the Divine Presence in such a way where you loosen the grip of your perceived control and start embracing chance and possibilities.
When the first few emails were sent between myself and the search committee at the church I had a conversation with Lauren early one morning over coffee. I had read their church profile and felt a strong connection of who they were and was sharing it with Lauren. During that talk I said such things as, “You know, neither of us have any connections there” and “This is such a long shot, do you think I should even pursue this?” I can remember Lauren’s comments to me that morning, she said something along the lines of “This will be a good experience for you. What’s it going to hurt? Let’s see how far it goes.”
For those listening for God’s call let my story be a fair warning to you. A “call” can go pretty far!
There is so much to this story that I plan to share over the next few months. And while I am excited with what is to be, I am trying to remain present. Assignments and papers are still due. A house is being purged and packed and place on the market within a month to be sold. And the grief I mentioned at the beginning is right there in the midst. I’m leaving my beloved South, my home of North Carolina (where Tarheel games were always on local channels) where my family lives. I grieve for the church families I’ve come to know and care for in Statesville over the past three years. The next several weeks just being with students and enjoying their company is my goal. So, as you see, it’s a mixed bag.
However I will share one experience that might lend itself to understanding what a call feels like. I arose early one morning while we were there visiting in December, it must have been around 4am. Lauren and Violet were still asleep and I tiptoed through the kitchen of the parsonage to make coffee. From the window I could see huge snowflakes falling, the first since we arrived. I walked through the sitting area and opened the door to the screened in porch located on the front of the house. From where I stood I could see the snowflakes, which seemed to be half the size of my hand falling at a rapid but silent pace. The only sound I could hear was the rushing waters of the New Haven River which is literally across the street. In that moment I felt a calming presence accompanying the cold, snow, and sound of the river. I remember responding out loud to God’s call,
“Oh hell, I guess we’re moving to Vermont.”
Maybe Abraham and Sarah said something similar.
As you were,