Our pastor has taken a week of vacation, and she was gone this morning. Many things happened this morning, some planned and some unplanned, but one of the planned things was that I led a significant part of both services.
This might not seem like a big deal to some of you, or might seem like a bigger deal than it was to others. But three weeks ago marked the fourth anniversary of my last Sunday as a UM local pastor, and I have missed that work more than words can say.
I now make my living part-time as a minister of music (I have a B.Mus. in Church Music) and part-time as an office manager for a psychotherapist who is also a UM elder. It's not a bad living, but it's certainly not what I thought I'd be doing at this stage of my life and I'm not making much more money than what it takes to make ends meet. I completed half the hours toward my M.Div. and have significant hours at the Master's level in both Sacred Music and Music Education. I won't go into all the reasons I didn't finish the M.Div., but they all centered around money (or a lack thereof).
Anyway, this morning is the closest I have come in the past four years to serving as the primary worship leader. It was good. I didn't preach; we had a visiting evangelist preach this morning, and I have had a couple of short evening worship opportunities for preaching in the interim, and they were good, too. This was the first time I have offered congregational prayer, issued an invitation, and given a benediction. It's difficult to describe just why, but these things were right. It's where I belonged, at least as of today.
Several people have commented recently about my needing to enter candidacy again. I think they're right, but it's not financially possible right now (again, as of today at least). The visiting evangelist commented after the service about how good he thought my children's sermon was. He liked that I engaged the children with the text for the morning. This was just the latest of out-of-the-blue affirmations of what I've come to realize is the ongoing call to ordained ministry.
As much as I love music and find fulfillment and blessing in leading music in the church, the same answer I surprised myself by giving at my first District-level candidacy interview 14 years ago is echoing in my head now: I'm not passionate enough about music. The passion for worship leadership, however, has never gone away and it smacked me hard this morning.
This impotence of longing to be able to respond to this resurgence of God's call, yet it not being possible at the moment, is a deep ache in me. I suspect that it's important to allow myself to feel that, however. Perhaps that's why God led me to the blogging project, and especially to the RevGals. (Thanks...I think!)
Don't get me wrong: this morning was good. Despite the sudden changes in music for the services because our accompanist was unable to get a flight back in time to be here, the big gap in the choir ("when the cat's away" syndrome re: the pastor's published vacation), and a few other more minor bumps, worship happened and God was glorified. (The evangelist was really, REALLY good!) I know that this isn't about me, at least not much. But when God reminds one that the call hasn't been rescinded despite whatever detours the path has taken, there is at least a little personal aspect to the worship experience.
I'll keep up here on how things progress. I suspect God isn't going to let up on me.