eHoly Harmony

24 Mar
If you’ve followed me along this far, you know that I graduate from seminary in May and have been assigned to serve my first call in the Southeastern Minnesota synod of Region 3.  As Margie, a resident at the care center where I completed Clinical Pastoral Education, always said in her rough, gravel tone, “Now what?”
Navigating the church and call world can be foreign to many people.  I’ll be the first to admit that it was extremely new and unclear to me until I was in seminary.  [Even now, I don’t know all the inner and outer workings of the process.]  I’m assigned.  [Like homework?]  I have a call.  [Call?  Like the person who holds up their ringing cell and say, “I’m going to take this call”?  Nope.  Not really.]  I serve and am strongly advised – barring any unforeseen tragedy – that I stay for at least three years.  The process is unlike most professions.  
I’ll translate.
I filled out my [dating] profile in early December.  This paperwork contained my likes and dislikes, and what I’m looking for in a church [partner].  I submitted this information to the greater church, ie the matchmakers.  [I wish I could add sound effects here.  Create your own; along the lines of foreboding or magical is your choice.  I suppose that depends if you trust the process or not.]
Likewise, churches – when they are [hopefully] emotionally stable and ready to move on from their last relationship [their last pastor and typically after a period of interim] – create their own [dating] profile.  In this paperwork, they provide their hopes and dreams for the future, and whether or not children are in the plans.  [Aging congregation or vital new families?  More baptisms or funerals?]
The matchmakers at the synod office see who is available and play around with the couples that they think will work together well.  They take into account age, gender, and whether or not one half of the couple is willing to relocate [typically the pastor].  Does the potential couple complement each other?  If the church cooks, will the pastor do the dishes?  Who is expected to be responsible for taking the garbage out?  How will the children be bathed – by water and the spirit?
Using their special formula and taking into account the 7×7 degrees of holy compatibility, the synod [matchmakers] couple pastors and churches together.  The courting begins.
In our day and age, the church makes the first move.  Usually by phone call, they ask the potential pastor for an interview [a date].  From here, the lines blur.  Both parties are extremely nervous about the first meeting and sweaty palms are shook.  Each learns more about the other, asking questions and using their gut to decide if this pastor/church “is the one.”  The Holy Spirit plays his role, as always, like the cupid always around the corner; leading, guiding, and shooting arrows working God’s will in the world.

Both parties must agree that a relationship is possible and dream that – dare I say? – there could be love in the future.  [Or, if not love, a promise to work with and for the best of the other.]  A second date may be requested before any decision can be made.  Meanwhile, each party does their best to show their prime side and foremost qualities to the other.  To seal the deal – if the courting has gone well thus far – a kiss contract is signed, vows given and rings exchanged.  
Just because the matchmakers have put this pair together doesn’t mean it always works out.  It’s important that honesty and faith are shared and shown, but if these don’t match up, one side or the other may offer a rejection.  [I’m uncertain if this hurts more or less than other guy rejection; here’s hoping it may not reach a case study comparison.]  But, all in all, the matchmakers typically do a pretty great job matching the couple.  Let the courting begin.  I’m ready for a relationship of commitment with a congregation of three hundred people and a large building.  Here we go.
[Here’s hoping I’m actually better at this kind of dating than the kind with boyfriends.  I’m terribly awkward on first dates and to move past that point is strange and unusual. I pray that’s not my fate in courting a congregation. I look forward to finding one to dream with and to accompany each other in knowing and sharing God’s love and grace. I know they’re out there, somewhere in southeastern Minnesota. Somewhere.] *cue cheesy music*

One Response to “eHoly Harmony”

  1. cassination March 24, 2011 at 1:45 pm #

    love it!

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