Thursday, May 13, 2010
I am retiring. I will leave my congregation (Lutherans say ‘congregation’; Episcopalians say ‘parish’) on the 13th of June. J and I will be moving to TX to help out a refugee diocese that needs clergy following the wholesale abandonment of their cures by the bishop and the clergy of the diocese. It will be home again for me. I never thought I would be able to return. But I will be glad to be around family and childhood friends. After living in small towns for the past 15 years, it will be nice to live in a city and close to good symphonies, museums, good medical care and quality restaurants.
Most of all it will be good for me be to be back in my own denomination. I do not begrudge my time with the ELCA in any way. My congregation has been wonderful to me and I have found ways of preaching the Gospel that were new to me. I respect their somber approach to faith and the seriousness with which they take the God experience. But I know I am an Episcopalian. I respect TEC’s ways, theology, liturgy and her wonderful sense of governance. I have missed the TEC’s hymns and harmonies most of all.
I guess I could get nostalgic and think of my “career” as something in the past. However, I don’t feel that way since I have never thought of the priesthood as a career. I think I have used that word to describe my vocation, but it isn’t the way I live it. The priesthood is as much a part of me as my breath. I am not especially fond of the idea of the ‘ontological change’ that is supposed to happen with ordination. Some may describe it that way. I don’t. But I do know that I am a different person than the one that used to teach school or who was a professional musician. I am not sure it happened at the moment of hands being laid upon me. I feel that it has come gradually, grace upon grace as I have tried to live in a way pleasing to God. I do know that grace has come upon me has been because I said ‘yes’ to the priesthood and all that entails. I am not sure that grace would not have come upon me if I had not been ordained—grace has to do with God’s gift, not ordination. But the priesthood was and is how I am supposed to live out that grace that comes unwarranted and teaches me the joys and privileges of life.
I will mourn not being in charge of a parish. I have loved being a part of peoples’ lives in that priestly/pastoral way. I visited a couple of people who are in hospital today and I will miss that. I will even miss some of the vestry meeting or council meeting discussions because I have always enjoyed watching how people grapple with God in their lives even when they don’t want to. I will especially miss sharing the Gospel in the weekly bible studies that I have either attended or taught.
There is not much chance of me just sitting in the pew. I have already gotten emails about taking services for other priests. I am not sure I am a good ‘pew sitter’, but I would like some time to just not be in charge for a while. The only thing that I want to have responsibility for is supper and perhaps the dandelions in the back yard. Perhaps I will be able to find a choir that will have my failing alto. It will be nice to have a bishop who will accept me for who and what I am and not expect me to ‘just be nice.’
I AM tired. I didn’t know how tired I was until I went on a cruise/continuing education trip and found that I could fall asleep any time I sat down with a book. I have not written on my blogs much lately because I have been so tired. I need some time just to rest so that my brain can function again.
Know this, I will continue blogging. My two blogs will be revamped and perhaps even renamed. www.foraseason.blogspot.com was originally named for the interim in which LGBT ordination and consecration was placed on hold at the request of the Presiding Bishop. It was her phrase that named that blog. It morphed into a commentary on the Together in Ministry and being a Luth-Episk. www.stoneofwitness.blogspot.com became a commentary on the ministry in the Episcopal Church and often times particular to the Diocese of Central NY. How these blogs will be redesigned I don’t know and will probably evolve. Lives change and so does a body of work. But I will always have something to say about the God and Christ and Church that I love.