Texts: Isaiah 42.1-9; Psalm 29; Acts 10:34-43; Matthew 3:13-17
As much as I knew why I was waiting and felt it was important, it was hard. I felt like something was lacking in my life. Here I was trained in a career but unable to do it. On top of that, I would sit in worship on the weekends hearing Steph’s internship supervisor preach, and I would be almost squirming in my seat because I felt like if I didn’t have the chance to preach, to share the good news, I would burst. I remember feeling like the prophet Jeremiah when he said, “If I say, ‘I will not mention the LORD or speak God’s name,’ then there is something like a burning fire shut up in my bones; I am weary from holding it in, and I cannot.”
Eventually, I found a job at a church near Madison as a “pastoral associate,” not ordained, but at least able to help preach, lead worship and teach confirmation. I loved that congregation, and I loved being able to do what I was trained for, but being there just made me even more impatient to finally be able to do the one thing I felt excited to do.
After we moved to Minnesota for Stephanie’s first call, I spent three months on the phone with the synod office talking about possibilities for a call of my own. After what seemed like an eternity of waiting, I was finally interviewed and called by Our Redeemer’s and Shepherd of the Hills.
After all the waiting and all the buildup, after all the training and preparing and hoping and longing, what I experienced those first few weeks of leading worship on Sunday mornings was not the relief or the excitement I expected, but rather uncertainty, almost fear, even. I remember watching myself in the mirror as I robed in my office, tying the cincture around my alb—like I had done hundreds of times before—and then putting on the new thing, the stole, and thinking, “What am I doing? I’m not a pastor.” I had the education, the training, the blessing of the Church, the call from the congregation, even the fancy piece of fabric to go around my neck, but none of that could make me a pastor. It took weeks—perhaps a month or two—of pretending that I was before I finally started to feel like it was true.