When I started at my last church, kathrynzj gave me a Starbucks gift card she had personalized. It says “a card to fuel the fierce and fabulous,” a favorite reference of those who wish to be fierce and fabulous for Jesus. It’s a charming card, and a gift that meant a lot to me, so I have recharged it many, many times.
Last week I found myself in a Starbucks with her, in my new homeland, and there we ran into a UCC colleague who used to be in Maine and now serves in the town where we live, which is, you know, a little odd, especially considering we really knew each other and I did the interim in his last church after he left for Pennsylvania. #smallworld
So there we all are on a Thursday afternoon, and I am in line paying with my Starbucks card while they talk, and the card is spent down to nothing, so I pay the balance with cash and reclaim the card, fending off the barista so ready to dispose of it for me.
I join them, and the three of us stand talking, and I realize not only are my worlds colliding in a bizarre way — yes, the colleague I used to sit next to every Tuesday morning at preacher group just sat next to my wife this Tuesday morning at ministerium — but also they are doing the work, and I am not.
A few days later I got out the door early enough to be UCC at 8:15 and worship with the Presbyterians at 11. I saw and heard them both preach, my old friend and my new wife. They did it differently, in style and text and context. I wondered, as I took notes and reflected on each message, if people used to listen to me as intently as I did to them?
Despite their encouraging and good words, I felt like the gift card, run down to zero. Will God charge me up and use me again? Will I be handed over to be recycled? Or will I end up in a drawer, a fond reminder of gestures long past?
kathrynzj told me that she set up the actual card on automatic re-charge. Maybe that’s what this sabbatical is meant for, a chance to recharge on God’s account. Maybe when it’s over, way will open to ministry in a familiar form.
Or maybe not.