WITH FEAR, TREMBLING AND FAITH -
I am beginning this new interim. It doesn't help that they have a bad taste in their mouth from a not helpful last interim time 11 years ago. The fact that they have brought it up, shows it is still in their memory. I pray that my grounded, usually joyful, self and love will win them over. But, I remember that I am a woman clergy and that in itself will be a challenge, as well as their healing, moving forward, and preparing themselves for new leadership. I pray that I will bring some freshness and offer some healing for them in this time. I pray that they and I will renew our faith in God and God's goodness to us even in times of challenge and uncertainty. I pray that their anxiety will abate some and their fears will be transformed to hopefulness of God's endless possibilities.
As I prepared myself for this new challenge in serving and loving Christ's beloved that is this congregation of a different denomination, I thoroughly lost myself in Ruth Haley Barton's "Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership" which I would recommend to all clergy.
Ruth writes in such a loving, wise way using Moses as an example of leadership in ministry. Her practices at the end of each chapter are so helpful, prayerful and reflective. The prayers she has choosen for each
chapter are also so meaningful. This is not a book to read through quickly, but one that takes time for prayer, thought and reflection. She is very in tune with the isolation and loneliness of spiritual leadership. She points the way to the hopeful grace and freedom of being deeply grounded in faith and in an intimate relationship with God. I will probably re-read and reflect on this book often. And although, I know the process of discernment, especially with groups, she has a most wonderful, gentle and understanding way of explaining it and sharing it.
I would really enjoy a seminar with her - perhaps a RGBP's BIG EVENT! Although, I'm sure she would have a hefty fee.
So, I begin this new adventure to which God has called me, knowing it is a tender time in the life of this congregation, that I have much to learn about them and the way they do things, that I will be scrutinized, that I will need to stay very grounded, that I rely on God and God's grace for all I am and do and as I serve with wisdom, gentleness, peacefulness, joy and love. And in the wonderful mix of it all, God will be there for us all. Thanks be to God!