This morning our congregation took our first steps down a whole new road. Just like the road in my picture it is not clear right now what it will look like or what side roads may come along but we have cleared a straight path and leveled it out.
For any of you not familiar with the way things work in the Presbyterian Church, we do not hire ministers, we believe they are called to a congregation by God. Once the search committee has heard and interviewed a candidate and decide that they are the right person they arrange for that person to preach for the congregation. After that service there is a congregational meeting at which it is decided whether or not to extend the call to that individual or go back to the drawing board.
This morning we heard a candidate preach, had some time with her at a reception (along with celebrating a members 93rd birthday), and decided at our meeting to extend a call to her. This document will then be presented at the next level of our church courts, the presbytery. If they affirm the call we will have a full-time minister again. It is pretty exciting stuff!
How often in our lives do we face this kind of “new road” experience? If we change jobs, begin or end a relationship, become parents we start new roads for sure. Other than that I suspect many of us are on the same road upon which our parents put our feet when we began to walk, or at least the road we took when we moved out on our own. I know that despite some side streets and dead ends, I am pretty much walking the path my parents showed me.
How does that translate to a church community? We have the comfort of all those things that have “always been done that way” but the real path we walk is the one cleared for us by Jesus and he was hardly one timid about change! I think the big thing that will change in the short-term is that we will have something definite for which to plan. There will be ordination and induction services to plan. There will be house hunting and moving for our minister.
The little things will settle themselves over time. Order of worship is one thing that is likely to undergo subtle changes. This morning for instance we were invited to sit after the call to worship. It seemed strange, but then I still remember when that was the norm and the strangeness of standing right from the call through the prayer and then the first hymn. I think the change was made for time-saving, but today it was quite nice to sit for the prayer.
I think the new road I have pictured above is going to be a new subdivision along the road which goes past our church. If this is the case, it will be leveled, graded, and lots will be sold. Gradually people will buy the lots and move into the area making it into a neighbourhood. Side roads will be added to accommodate more homes. Hopefully the same will be said of our church over the next few years. New people may move in to join those of us already there, perhaps new side-roads will take the form of new groups or initiatives. We can’t know from where we stand now, but we have the road started and it is time to move forward!