Monday, April 25, 2011

The Age Question

Yesterday we had a lovely Easter dinner with two families from the church. The food was great and it was nice to be together in an informal setting to relax and celebrate the Resurrection.

After dinner the conversation turned to age and one of the folks at the table, whom I know relatively well, guessed my age as late twenties. While it is certainly flattering, it is a little bit frustrating to constantly be thought to be younger than I am. (As you blog readers know from my birthday post, I am a proud 36!) I think I have grown and matured and changed with age ~ both as a person and as a pastor. I am proud of my nearly eleven years of service in Christian ministry. While there are benefits to being thought of as younger, it sometimes seems my appearance overshadows my experience.

Lately I've been reflecting on my work style and am noticing some changes. When I was new to pastoral ministry (at 25) planning ahead was not one of my gifts. I rarely looked more than a Sunday ahead. Bible Studies were prepared on the fly hours (or even minutes) before they were to start. Over the years I've become a much better planner. While at my last appointment I made worship plans months ahead. Confirmation classes were planned at least a week in advance. Bible Studies were developed with plenty of time to spare. However, I was still very much a Saturday sermon-writer.

These days I've been working hard at finishing my sermon on Thursdays. And I find I really like not having that stressful Saturday night. For a long time my excuse was that I needed the adrenaline to make it happen, but I am finding that not to be the case. This past Holy Week the changes in my work style really became evident.

I actually started working on my Holy Week services back in February. The Maundy Thursday and Easter Sunrise services and sermons were done before Holy Week. I finished my Easter Sunday Service on Thursday. I even had some time on Thursday to work ahead on our Holy Humor Sunday in June. With all this work done ahead of time I was able to enjoy the Maundy Thursday Service, to relax a bit and reflect on Good Friday and to participate fully in the Easter Egg hunt. That's not to say that it was not a busy week. It totally was! But I was able to be 'present' in it much more without the stress.

I think these changes are partly do to age, maturity and learning from mistakes. There will always be those stressful weeks when things get pushed to the last minute, but, at 36, I feel I have found the rhythm that works best for me. And that is just one of the reasons I love 36. (I wonder what 46 will bring?)

Monday, April 18, 2011

Fabulous Day

Yesterday was Palm Sunday and our pre-service preparations were a bit hectic. The big thing was the Palm Parade! Our Church School youth and children planned a parade complete with chanting and waving of palms. There was also a reading and music involved. In addition to the Palm Parade, preparations were being made for our after worship lasagna lunch.

After running (in heels) up and down the hallway a few times to ask questions and make sure were were all on the same page for the parade, I limped exhausted into the Sanctuary where I ran into Joe. Joe also was wearing many hats yesterday ~ liturgist, power-point coordinator, fudge-maker for lunch, etc. I said to Joe, "This is a busy day!" To that he replied, "It is a fabulous day!"

That was just what I needed before worship. Instead of going into worship exhausted, Joe's comment allowed me to enter the worship moment filled with anticipation. It was a fabulous day and we were all there ~ with our many hats ~ to share it. Fabulous!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Mondays at Barnes and Noble

Part of my ministry at Faith UMC is hanging out at the Barnes and Noble Cafe on Monday afternoons. I hold my "Open Hours" from 3:30-5:30pm. This started as an opportunity for church folks (and others) to chat with me in an informal setting. I got the idea from blog-friend Elizabeth Quick who held similar open hours at a Panera near her church. Most weeks I drink hot chocolate, get a snack and do some work on my computer. And most weeks I get at least one visitor.

Over these months I've found that folks stop by to visit me at the Cafe who would never stop in to talk to me at the office. The conversations are often very deep and meaningful. It is, somehow, easier for folks to talk with me over a cup of coffee, over the din of other coffee drinkers, rather than in the quiet of my office. And on the weeks that I have no visitors I am able to catch up with my reading, e-mails, blogging, or whatever I'm falling behind with at the moment!

One of the side benefits of this practice is that it gets me out of my office and into the community. It is surprising how many other people I regularly see at the Cafe on Monday afternoons. I've developed a passing friendship with two older gentlemen who meet for coffee every week. Others are in regularly offering tutoring services, catching up on reading and meeting friends. I feel like I am part of a fellowship of coffee drinkers (or hot chocolate drinkers) and readers who form a small community.

Sometimes I get questions from parishioners asking, "Are you still doing the Barnes and Noble thing?" My response, "I wouldn't give it up for the world!"

Monday, April 04, 2011

Dreaming of the Field

Well, the weather might not be cooperating with Bady and my goal of going for our BH Title on April 30th. We train as much as we can inside and around our house and the church, but there is nothing quite like getting out on the field. There are several exercises we have to practice that require field time. I did a field check with our trainer today and learned that it is still pretty snow covered. The areas not covered with snow are soggy and wet. We need several more days of sunny, warm weather (along with no precipitation) before we can get out on the field.

Such is life in Vermont, but that's okay. There are a number of Trials coming up in the Spring that we might be able to attend. Trials we be scheduled for the fall as well. In the meantime, we enjoy our training and I continue to study my rule book!

At four years old, Bady will probably be the oldest GSD going for his BH. I came late to Schutzhund as well, so we make a good team. Hopefully there is grace in Schutzhund, just like there is grace is the life of faith. We do the best we can under the circumstances we have before us, we acknowledge where we need to work harder, and we accept every new day ~ with its opportunities and challenges ~ as a gift!