I am reminded today of the commitment by pastors and their families to go and serve wherever the bishop sends them. Itinerancy is a peculiar part of what it means to be Methodist. And even though some folks push back against the system as being antiquated, it has been one of our core traditions - since the days of circuit riders.
Personally, I enjoy being a part of a tradition that values, encourages, and sends people to create a little disruptive change from time to time. I am also grateful that the Methodist appointment process gives pastors the opportunity to say difficult things without fear of being “voted out,” as some other denominations are structured. But most of all, I enjoy the urgency of being appointed one year at a time. There’s something about this last part that is in sync with the preciousness and uncertainty of life as a whole.
Two short years ago, my family and I walked through the side doors at Christ UMC on Bellhaven Boulevard for the first time. We were asked to come in a few weeks before the official transition in order to take pictures for the new directory. It was there that Ms. Edlin made sure to get the correct spelling of our names. We exchanged big awkward smiles and small talk with everyone that we were introduced to that evening. And it was obvious to me that I possessed that “new pastor smell,” that so many of my friends and colleagues have joked about over the years.
I remember how tired of meeting new people Isaiah, our oldest son, was after being at his fourth church in as many years. I also distinctly remember the potty accident Elijah, our youngest son, had in his light khaki shorts before our family picture. And I remember the way that Camille and I communicated our emotions to each other through secret non-verbal facial expressions.
Change is often hard. AND Methodists embrace challenging things. This is who we are.
For the next year (at least), you and I get the opportunity to roll up our sleeves and do some good hard work together. One day we'll reminisce about how young everyone looks in the directory but for now, let's focus on making our days together count.
On this transition day, may we all take a moment to remember the truth that God is in the business of calling, equipping, and sending ordinary people like you and me to do good things. May we hear God’s voice clearly and have the audacity to follow where God leads us.