It’s a mark of how much I really do believe in this stuff that it didn’t occur to me until just now to ever add “Batman” to the end of that phrase. No, snarkiness, don’t leave me!
So, I survived Annual Conference—and land o’lakes, Reader, but the feeling of upcoming change was right. No, Magister, I did not come back as a hobbit; sort of worse, actually, as I came back deliberate.
Not deliberately, in that I came back on purpose. I knew I was going to do that, if only because I’d told people I would be in church on Sunday. I came back deliberate, as in having chosen one nebulous cloud of possibilities over another. Let me explain this more clearly (I have another head cold—yes, in June—and it makes my synapses fire very slowly, so it’s kind of hilarious how thoughts are not connected in my head today).
Part of the way my particular corner of the Church does conference is to hold an ordination ceremony on the last night that includes an altar call for those considering ministry. This isn’t anything binding, and you don’t sign a contract, and like all altar calls, if you just sort of ignore it, the impact will go away. But I’m a medievalist, Reader, and a writer and theatrical type to boot. I can’t brush off ceremony, so if you’re declaring something in front of 500 people, you better mean it.
I went up, because I meant it. I have no more idea what kind of job or plan or skill set I have/will have now than I did before I went, but after three days of watching the Church pull out its own heart to examine it, I can’t pretend I can do anything else anymore. Not for me is the academic career, or the office track, or even publishing. This isn’t to say I can’t or won’t do those types of jobs (yes, job update: having re-applied and re-interviewed, it looks very promising that I’ve earned the same job twice). It’s more to say that I know, know now that those aren’t the end goal.
I’m going into ministry.
Not right now, not necessarily pastoral, but eventually, and something. Because I went to this conference that discussed everything from the alteration in Conference Rules of Order regarding response to petitioners to the use of inclusive language regarding accepting homosexuals in the work and body of the Church. Because I heard the arguments over pretty much everything, and some of them were narrow-minded and foolish, and some of them were broad-minded and foolish, and some of them were just plain foolish. Because we spoke passionately about our denomination and its founder’s intentions, and we spoke passionately about our faith and its Founder’s intentions, and we spoke of how we didn’t really know but had to walk forward trusting that we were honestly trying to live and vote and discuss as God’s people. Because we prayed before particularly sparked votes on labor unions, and because our bishop (who is awesome) said that this would never be easy, and because I met so many people who are so totally, totally different and yet under this same vast umbrella of one branch of Christianity.
Because I understand why it’s not just conferencing, but holy conferencing. And I’m not pie-in-the-sky in love with it; I was utterly exhausted by the time my friend drove me home last Saturday and passed out for a couple of hours on my futon. (Granted, I was out late the night before with several of my new friends and then had to get up for 8:30 worship, but still. The whole week was tiring.) There were parts that made me rather displeased with some people, and there were parts I totally tuned out, but for the most part? It was the hands and feet of God trying to figure out how to exist in a world which no longer recognizes Him, and doing so in the herky-jerky God-blessed way that humans have, because we can only follow imperfectly and let God perfect us along the way.
How can I not accept that Call? Holy conferencing, Batman; it was a gift of grace to experience and hear.
Again the LORD called Samuel, so Samuel got up, went to Eli, and said, “I’m here. You called me?” “I didn’t call, my son,” Eli replied. “Go and lie down.” (Now Samuel didn’t yet know the LORD, and the LORD’s word hadn’t yet been revealed to him.) A third time the LORD called Samuel. He got up, went to Eli, and said, “I’m here. You called me?” Then Eli realized that it was the LORD who was calling the boy. (1 Samuel 3:6-8, CEB)