It’s the first Sabbath Monday of my officially installed ministry at North Yarmouth Congregational Church. I’ve lived here a long time. I was In Care of this Association, and I did my student ministry here and I’ve now served four churches as Interim or settled pastor within its bounds. I’ve had three different last names, one of them now twice, and I thank God the congregation could chuckle generously with this renamed bird.
After being exhorted to shine and be salty, to mind my boundaries and care for myself, after receiving the loving embraces of many friends new and old, and marveling at the gorgeous Super Bowl Party-themed refreshments, I returned to the place that has been home through all my ministry, so far. Over the weekend,we had extra people in the house,and it was good. We introduced out-of-towners to the marvels of Portland Pie Company. We burned almost the last of the firewood not buried under several feet of snow.
I got to read old-fashioned favorite picture books with someone young enough to appreciate them, and found myself charmed once again by the Circus McGurkus, and Mr. and Mrs. Mallard, and Michael the policeman. I even got to visit an old house in Paris that was covered with vines.
And wandering into those places of imagination and memory brings back the little boy who wanted almost nothing but books, #1 Son. We sat on the couch for hours on end, reading one book after another. He never tired of them. He had my full attention, because there were no other distractions: no younger siblings yet, no full-time job and, Lord knows, no Internet.
We’re in a different place, a different time. I’m reading the old stories, older than Madeline or Dr. Seuss, and trying to find ways to bring them to life in my new home for ministry. I’m giving them my (mostly) full attention and looking for what they have to say on Sunday morning and in my heart and in our committee meetings and every place we gather to be the church.
It’s good to hear them again, even the ones that make us uncomfortable. (And there’s surely one of those gospel lessons coming this week.)
Today, I rested. I tried to turn my thoughts away, with difficulty, and rest my mind from the details of church life. Except for a few emails. And yes, I know those count.
But like Miss Clavel, I’m hyper-aware, always ready in case “Something is not right.” And I’m hoping the technology that sometimes distracts will mostly serve, as we find new ways to connect and share the message that wherever we are and whatever befalls, we are never alone, even “in the middle of one night.” That’s the Good News that keeps me going on the Monday after a busy weekend.