Our move day has been pushed back to a week from today. While I’m bummed we’ll be in transition for another week, I am also very grateful that the church’s parsonage committee is being so proactive in preparing the house for our arrival. What a blessing and a tangible expression of their desire to welcome us into their community! [smile] I know that I have said it before, but we really are so excited to begin ministry at “The Church.” We’ve discussed about how we really need a find a different word to describe how we are feeling. We’ve probably said “we are excited” about a million times in the last month, but no other words seem to capture the anticipation and joy that we both feel when we think about the future we are moving toward.
On Sunday we met a retired minister and his wife who are members of my dad’s new church. When we shared that we were about to take our first appointment they responded that “your first appointment is always special. Every church will be special, but that first church is particularly so.” My parents and grandparents have all suggested the same in our conversations with them over the last month. When the subject of first appointments comes up, everyone seems to retreat into a memory for a moment and usually the story of some special person or special event from those years at the first appointment is shared.
I was born while my parents were serving their first church in rural South Georgia. The magic that surrounds the stories my parents have told me about my earliest years of life has always been doubled in my mind because all of the special firsts happened at Cook’s Union UMC, the special community who nurtured them at the first of their ministry. [smile] When I went back to Cook’s Union with my parents about 5 years ago for a homecoming celebration where my dad was the guest pastor, I was welcomed back as their now grown “church baby.” [smile] I am entering this next phase of my life with Caleb with the knowledge that not everything about being “The Preacher’s Family” will be easy. Sometimes we will feel like we are living in a fish bowl and the moving will always be hard, but accepting this calling to be in full-time ministry will also be so rewarding. We will have the opportunity to get to know so many wonderful people and that’s what I am looking forward to.
In seminary, we were warned that our first appointment could really set the tone for the rest of our ministry. “That first appointment can make you or break you.” I think there is some truth in that, but certainly that doesn’t mean that the first church you serve can make you or break you. I am so thankful that the church is preparing for us, but I also know that we also must be preparing our hearts to receive their hospitality. A first appointment becomes a special memory by this commitment to mutual blessings.
So yes we are excited about beginning our ministry with “the church,” but never has excited packed so much meaning! [smile]