Saturday, September 24, 2016

Big deal

Tomorrow afternoon, I will be installed as senior pastor at Ascension Lutheran Church in Towson. I haven’t wanted to make a big deal out of it. For one thing, this will be the seventh time that I have been installed into a ministry position. Six of those installations have been in congregations. It kind of feels like making a big deal out of a wedding after you’ve been married multiple times. It's embarrassing and a tad tacky.

And then, there’s the whole matter of being the center of attention for a day, which makes me want to run and hide. I’m far too self-conscious to enjoy having all eyes on me. I wish there were a way to begin serving in a ministry setting without having a formal installation. 

Well, despite my best efforts to blow it off as a low key Sunday afternoon alternative to football, people all around me are making a big deal out of it, so I’m going to have to suck it up and enjoy it. 

I can do that if I remember that this isn’t really all about me. It’s about a new beginning for the people of Ascension. In the two months that I’ve been with them, I’ve become increasingly aware of how blest I am to be in this place, with these people, at this time. Pert near every single day they amaze me, and I offer a prayer of thanksgiving for the opportunity to serve with them.

Those who know me best know that I don’t like surprises. When I read a book, I’ll get two or three chapters into it, and I can’t stand it, I have to know how it ends. So, I’ll flip to the end and read the conclusion. I do the same thing when I binge watch TV shows on Netflix. I’ll watch a few episodes, and I have to go to the finale or it makes me nuts.

Serving in a new congregation is like opening a new book without any access to the concluding chapters. It’s stepping out in faith, trusting that the story is going to unfold in God’s time. That’s both hard for me and exciting. But really, it’s the way all great adventures begin. 

And so, that’s how I’ve decided to look at my installation tomorrow. It is the first chapter in a great adventure I’m embarking upon with the people of Ascension. I don’t know how it will end, but I know God is leading us, I have high expectations for our journey together, and I trust that getting there will be the best part. 

Yes, I suppose it's actually a pretty big deal.