This week, Bishop Jones announced that Rev. Steven Blair will be appointed to Resurrection on November 1 and will be responsible for those whose last names begin with M through R. You can read the full update to Resurrection here.
I have known Steven for several years and he is an excellent pastor and a great communicator. I believe that his presence at Resurrection will have a positive impact on the entire congregation. I am excited to have the opportunity to be on the same staff and continue to learn from him.
I will be ending my role as pastor of Congregational Care and beginning a role as pastor of Resurrection Internet Campus. I am excited about the potential for in this role and believe that it will be a key part of continuing to build a Christian community where non religious and nominally religious people are becoming deeply committed Christians.
In between the ending of one role and the beginning of another is a time of transition. Over the next 44 days, I invite those of you who are currently part of the M-R pastorate to set up a time to meet with me if you would like to have a one on one conversation about the transition. I hope to arrange an event before November 1 to give you an opportunity to hear about my new role and have an opportunity for closure as I depart my current role.
I care about making a good transition.
I have some ideas about what might be most helpful, but also look to you for guidance. In past pastoral transitions, what has been most helpful for you? What has not been helpful? What guidance do you have for me for making a good transition?
After 2.5 years here at Resurrection, I am looking forward to a first for me here.
A potluck dinner.
You read that right.
This will be the first time that I have been to a potluck dinner at the church and to my knowledge this week is the first time that the church has hosted a potluck dinner since at leats July 1, 2006. As a congregational care team, we are hosting dinner with your pastor to give people in the congregation the opportunity to get to know thier pastor better. Likewise, the opportunity for me to get to know people in the congregation better. Care for more information? Check out this link.
I am excited for this event and hope that there will be a good enough response so that we will do it again some time.
My assumption is that this might be surprising to you. Is that right?
This month it has been an adventure to go to conferences, retreats and workshops. Throughout the month I attended:
Kansas Area Professional Seminar for Ministry
Kansas Area Self-Care Workshop
Congregational Care Team Retreat
Kansas West Board of Ordained Ministry Provisional Members Retreat
Kansas East Residency Retreat
All of these events have been good, but it has been a lot of time out of the office. It has been an adventure trying to stay on top of the responsibilities for the N-R pastorate and also having the opportunity to network and stay in connection with other United Methodist Clergy.
Arena Church Management System has been used at Resurrection since early this year. I have used it as a part of my usual work within Congregational Care, but am certain that a greater level of functionality can be determined within our department. I am determined to wring every last bit of efficiency and work savings out of it to allow people to provide the best care possible to other people.
Arena has made my job as a pastor a lot easier. Names, pictures, involvement, history at the church - all is available at a fingertip via an easy to use website.
I felt as if I learned more about self-reflection in less than one hour than I may have learned in the past 1.5 years. I discovered that I have a clear tendency to start with my head, to understand, to comprehend, or to know things. I have a much lower tendency to interface with the way I am feeling about a situation.
Do you find that you react most naturally to situations by thinking or with emotions?
“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.” –Psalm 23:5, TNIV
Before I was appointed at Resurrection, I was not very familiar with the practice of anointing someone with oil. However, here I have found that it is a common practice and I have made it a part of my common practice.
When I am visiting someone before surgery, I will anoint their head with oil in the sign of the cross. After conversation with the individual and others in the room, I will read scripture – usually from Psalm 23 – anoint the person having surgery on her or his forehead in the sign of the cross and pray for healing. After I finish reading the scripture passage I say, “Oil has been used in the Old and New Testaments as a sign of God’s presence and for healing.” It also helpful that Psalm 23 mentions one’s head being anointed with oil.
Another occasion in which oil is used at Resurrection is at baptism. After the water has been used, the pastor will anoint the head of the person who has been baptized as another sign of God’s seal on the person.
Oil will also be used at occasions of prayer – for a particular need or for someone seeking guidance. Again placing oil on the thumb or finger and making the sign of the cross while saying the words “(name), I anoint you in the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit.” Then entering into prayer with the individual.
I have found that this practice has been one that has added meaning and significance to a time of prayer.
I had a conversation with a staff member in the hallway this afternoon that was too good not to share. I had been thinking about a conversation that I had just had on the phone and he could tell that I was a bit troubled. He stopped and asked how I was doing. I said that I was doing okay but was a bit troubled by the phone conversation. He responded,
It is just hard to care sometimes.
I started laughing out loud.
What I heard was – It is hard to care about other people, it is better and easier just not to care.
What he meant was – At times it is hard to share in the hurt of people’s lives and care for them.
Hearing the first and then realizing the second really made me laugh, which is good.
Last night, I had an amazing time with the grief support group at Resurrection. The group normally work through the GriefShare curriculum, and is great community. I was invited to lead the group for one evening.
The Holy Spirit was really at work as the ideas for the evening came together that afternoon and really took form as we were in the gathering together. I talked about Jesus stories of the Kingdom of Heaven is like… and asked them to consider how to finish the sentence: Grief is like… and wrote the ideas on the whiteboard in the room. I gave the first four examples and told stories about them and then they broke up into small groups and came up with the rest of the ideas.
Grief is like:
holding your breath underwater
an unfinished building
a teenage break up
riding a wave / tsunami
a roller coaster
being an amputee
death or loss of a part of you
your family is no longer your family
losing your identity
There were stories that went with each of these examples / similes / parables. We reflected on John 16:16-24 and then I asked them to consider a change in the concepts which we had come up with together. I erased the word grief and in its wrote the word “hope” Hope is like… all the things above. The group helped me through transitioning all of the above concepts to how it might be like grief to how it might be like hope. The closing challenge was to finish that sentence – “Hope is like…” in our every day life. Maybe hope is like a dishwasher, your favorite shirt or a cup of coffee. Look for hope in every day life.
I could feel God’s presence among the group – particularly at the moment of transition from grief to hope. God is good!
What do you think grief is like? What do you think hope is like?
Last Friday, Nicole and I went to see P.S. I Love You at the theater. Fridays are our day off and it was Nicole’s turn to pick the movie. Who did we see there, but Jason Gant and Jason Watson. They were off to see Alien v. Predator – Requiem – quite a different genre of movie than we headed to see. Jason Gant challenged me to blog about the movie so here goes
One of the topics that I address with couples at whose wedding I will be officiating is how a conversation can escalate into a serious conflict. In the first scene of the movie Holly and Gerry (the main characters) are in a classic example of this type of escalating conflict in which each person pushes the emotional buttons of the other and things just gets worse. I am thinking about getting the DVD and playing it as an example of this with couples in the future.
The movie was also a story of a woman moving through grief. There are definitely healthier ways to move through grief than is portrayed in the movie. Nevertheless, it does provide a picture of the depth and strength of emotions at the loss of a spouse.
I give this movie 3 out of 5 stars. If you are thinking about watching it you can probably wait until it comes out on DVD.
What movies have you seen recently that have implications for the life of faith or ministry?