Tuesday, January 30, 2007

A Big Weekend for Us

It’s been a while since I posted anything. The shipment of our furniture and other things completely buried us in boxes (full and empty), books, clothes we don’t need (I brought about 40 t-shirts—they should take my PhD away), and other sundry items. Julie worked three straight days and made the upstairs (the living and dining rooms) look like home. It was really good to see our own chairs and bookcases, TV cabinet and other homey things. It was also more than a little sad--having our household here makes the whole move real in a way we hadn't expected. So many things are mixed blessings these days. We’re both homesick, each in our own way, and that makes some parts of being here very difficult.

The induction service jarred me out of some of my funk (some of you will call this an installation service—over here that would make me a celebrated home appliance). It was added on to the end of our regular worship time, and some representatives of the United Reformed Church (from now on, the URC) came to induct me as the minister at ACL. Each of them brought some heart and humor and a sense of calling to the event, and that helped me focus a bit on what I’m doing here.

One of the induction questions was: ‘Do you believe that the Church is the people gathered by God’s love to proclaim the reconciliation of the world to God through Jesus Christ?’ And here's the good part: I do believe that. I believe that the message of the Gospel is here to reconcile us to God and each other and even to those parts of ourselves that keep us from living whole lives. I all I had to do was say ‘I do’, but I could have preached again right then and there.

Another question was: ‘Are zeal for the glory of God, love for the Lord Jesus Christ, obedience to the Holy Spirit and a desire for the salvation of the world, so far as you know your own heart, the chief motives which lead you to enter this ministry?’

Can I just say that I love that question?

It gets at the heart of why anyone would get into ministry—not just the ordained types, but anyone who teaches a Sunday School class, visits an old person, decorates a sanctuary or answers a phone—it gets at what drives us to take this risk. Zeal for the Father, Son and Spirit should be what prompts anyone to share their gifts with the church. But the part of the question that grabbed me was the little clause in the middle: ‘as far as you know your own heart’. It’s not a loophole, but rather an acknowledgement that we’re on a journey—even the pastors—and that the best we can do is search our hearts and do what we believe to be our calling. Notice that the question isn’t concerned with what we know as such, but rather where our hearts are in relationship to Jesus Christ. I happily answered, ‘They are.’

I started this blog a few months ago with a little story about calling and ministry. This past Sunday in a way brought that part of the story full circle. Now I have to actually do the work, as it says in another part of the induction process, ‘relying on the strength of Christ.’

Now for some pictures...

This is the Moderator of the local URC District asking me the questions of induction. Turns out she's from Northern California, near where I spent a lot of time when I worked for Fuller. She and the other ministers were a joy to meet and be around. I look forward to getting to know them.

After they were done with me they called up Julie and Ian to welcome us to the church and to the URC. Ian liked it a lot when they clapped for us...don't we all?

This is our Moderator, Roberta Rominger, at the reception following the service. That enormous piece of cake is actually Ian's--he asked for the whole part that had his name (see below), and they gave it to him!

This is my office, now loaded with books. There are 3 boxes yet to shelve...
The reception after the service. The black curtains aren't a symbol of mourning, but rather soundproofing for a group that is renting that room during the week for rehearsal space.

The lovely cake (note the section with Ian's name).

One of the joys of the weekend was having people we knew come to visit for the service. The couple at the far end of the table are Mike and Cath Grieve, some of our dear friends from Scotland. Mike was the Beadle at St Giles' Cathedral when I was there, and we've been friends ever since. They drove down and spent the weekend near our house. The guy in the foreground is Charlie Matthews, one of our good friends from Glendale. He was in Paris on business last week and scheduled his home trip through London to be at the service. He also has the honor of being our very first overnight guest. He won't be the last!

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