I celebrated the one year anniversary of our arrival in Waverly and my appointment to Trinity at Mayo Clinic/St Mary's Hospital in Rochester, Mn. This was fitting because pastoral care is an important part of what I do. We have been blessed to do some exciting, kingdom building things together as a faith community over the past year!
I am so very blessed to be appointed to Trinity and this year has been very rewarding. I feel like I have been stretched in ways that I had not thought possible - and I am grateful to our loving, Triune God and the people of Trinity for their patience, grace and encouragement these past 12 months. I know that I am still a work in progress, but it is a beautiful journey we are on, and it is made sweeter by traveling together as sisters and brothers in Christ.
Today I spent a few hours with Kristin Ruyle, the newest member of the Trinity staff. Kristin came on board yesterday as our Director of Discipleship. Kristin grew up in Waverly as a member of Trinity. We are really blessed to have her on the ministry team! Her main assignment is to get to know folks and to help us finds ways to live into our baptism vows to 'serve as Christ's representatives in the world' and to 'love and nurture one another in faith'.
We both will be leading small groups this summer and into the fall. We will also begin laying the groundwork for the launch of our mid-week program on Wednesday afternoons - this is in response to the new Waverly Shellrock early out schedule. (The school board voted this spring to release all of the students at 2pm each Wednesday for teacher in-service training). Our midweek program is prayerfully going to meet the needs of parents in our community who are looking for a safe and caring place for their children to go Wednesday afternoons AND it will be a great way to get to know and walk alongside the youth of our community!
Tonight (Thursday) I am packing to go to the Iowa Annual Conference. Each summer representatives from each of the 800 some United Methodist churches across the state of Iowa gather in Des Moines for our annual meeting. This is happening at Annual Conferences around the globe over the next several weeks - which is pretty amazing when you stop to think about it!
We will meet for four days to worship, ordain new clergy, celebrate our various ministries, hear reports from the various commissions, conduct the business of the conference (pass the budget, etc) and elect lay and clergy delegates to the 2012 General and Jurisdictional Conferences. It is a time of hard work but also a wonderful time to reconnect with friends from across the state.
A clergy colleague, Rev. Magrey DeVega, wrote the following prayer for pastors, and I would like to invite you to join me in praying for all of our brothers and sisters around the globe as we gather as the people called United Methodists:
We thank you for the call that you have given women and men to serve as ministers in your church. We remember that theirs is a holy calling, grounded in the theological and biblical roles of prophets, priests, and psalmists, for the work of challenging, nurturing and ordering the life of your people. You have composed a rich, diverse, covenantal communion, whose pastors display a wide range of skills and passions, from all walks and seasons of life. In particular, we thank you for those who have or will soon retire, for their long years of service, and for the legacy they leave behind. We thank you for those who are fresh into the tender years of their work, especially those who will soon be licensed, commissioned, and ordained to ministry.
Yet, we acknowledge that the journey is often difficult for those who pursue your call. We pray for those who are dealing with physical, emotional, mental, or financial hardship. Grant them courage for their disabilities, guidance for their difficulties, supportive loved ones to surround them in their darkest days, renewed strength for their moments of fatigue, and the willingness to make necessary changes toward health and wholeness.
We pray for those struggling to find adequate balance between the demands of leadership and their responsibilities to family and self-care. Grant them the ability to discern healthy choices, prioritize what is most important, and to tend to those areas of life that nourish their souls and tend to their relationships.
We pray for those dealing with isolation and loneliness, separated perhaps by distance from close friends and colleagues, or who serve in communities where pastoral boundaries preclude close friendships with parishioners. We pray for a dramatic increase in the numbers of pastors involved in clergy covenant groups, that they may discover the strength of companionship. May these groups afford them the chance to celebrate without seeming boastful, and to mourn without appearing indulgent.
We pray for pastors whose current spiritual state is likened to a dry, parched wilderness. We pray for those whose difficult years in ministry have sapped them of joy, robbed them of creativity, and drained them of a desire to seek your spirit of innovation and imagination. Tend to them as ravens at the Brook Cherith. Restore their energies, and inspire them to new ways of serving your people and the world.
We pray that you will renew within pastors a holy passion for the Scriptures. Open their eyes to new interpretive possibilities, and fill them with new zeal for its preaching, its teaching, and its embodiment through their example. May they see themselves as wordsmiths of the Word, falling in love once again with the beauty of human language, and its power to name, claim, and sustain our commitment to be your people.
We pray for pastors struggling with congregations mired in conflict, who must mediate between people caught in sharp disagreements and taxing arguments. Grant your spirit of peace, and empower a commitment to reason and compromise.
We pray for pastors whose patterns of spiritual discipline have long gone untended. Forgive those whose regular practices of prayer, Bible reading, ministry to the needy, fasting, tithing, meditation, and study have lapsed into inactivity. Call them to flex their atrophied muscles, that they may build up their capacity to serve your church over the long haul.
We pray that you will give pastors a new sense of joy in their ministry. Remind them of the first moments when you whispered your call into their ears. Strip away the layers of painful memories that now muffle the clarity and vitality of those first effusive moments. Instead, buoy their call with hope, fill them with laughter, grant them holy humor, and remind them that "the joy of the Lord is their strength."
We pray for the development of mentoring relationships, for older pastors willing to share a lifetime of lessons learned and mistakes overcome, and for younger pastors willing to exhibit humility and reverence for those who would teach them. Provide each Samuel a willing Eli, an Elijah for every Elisha, and a Naomi for every Ruth.
We pray for the Bishop and the Cabinet, and for the weighty episcopal demands they bear in making and setting pastoral appointments. We pray for your guiding spirit in every stage of the process, and for all parties involved - - departing and arriving pastors, sending and receiving churches, and all spouses and families impacted - - that your Kingdom will be built by the best people serving in the right places.
We pray for the emergence of new people into the ministry. May each local church claim the responsibility of seeking, cultivating, and calling people into this sacred task, and we even pray for an influx of younger pastors to lead the church for generations to come.
We give you thanks, O Lord, for all you have done in and through the faithfulness of your people throughout the years. May we continue to serve as the living expression of your love, put into action for the world to see. May all of us, clergy and laity alike, be led by the one whom you sent for our sake, Jesus the Christ, who is the head of the church, and in whose name we pray,
Thank you for your continued prayers and support. I look forward to the next year at Trinity!
Peace, love in Christ