In the United Methodist system of appointing pastors to churches, July 1 is the usual start date for pastors in their new ministry settings. Transitions can be challenging for everyone involved – the pastor, the church they leave behind, the new church, and the pastor’s spouse or family. I wrote about this more extensively last year in “How Pastoral Transitions Are Like Having a Baby, or What I Learned on My Maternity Leave.”
Change can be hard, whether chosen and celebrated or encountered because of doors closing in front of or behind us. I spotted the road sign pictured here (“Changed Priorities Ahead”) while in England two years ago for a friend’s wedding – actually while driving from the wedding ceremony site to the reception. I’ve never seen a sign like it in the U.S., but it spoke volumes to me of the importance of recognizing when a change in our circumstances means we will have to also change how we think, speak, and act while we learn to navigate the changed priorities in the new system of relationships.
Today, I want to offer a brief blessing – with tongue positioned gently in cheek – that I also wrote last year, for pastors who are preparing to begin a new appointment this weekend.
A Blessing for Those Beginning a New Ministry Appointment
May your car start easily and your keys turn smoothly to open the church doors;
may your accompanist arrive early and your liturgist be on time.
May you accurately gauge the height of chancel steps and the length of your robe,
and may your microphone amplify your voice without ear-splitting feedback.
May your sermon notes remain in order and your mouth not get too dry;
may your insights find a landing place in ears and hearts and minds.
May your congregation welcome you with grace and hospitality,
and wait until you’ve learned their names before triangulating you in their drama.
May your preaching be genuine and your own heart be fully present,
and may the Holy Mystery surround and fill and meet you in this new place,
today and each day that you are here.
© 2014 Kerry Greenhill