Friday, January 6, 2017

Epiphany Check-In

Epiphany Blessings!

I have always appreciated this holiday, a capstone to the 12 days of Christmas. I actually got to be in Bethlehem on Epiphany in 1994. What a joyous celebration. The parade with the Boy Scout marching band inches from my face in the narrow street, all the Orthodox Patriarchs celebrating what for them is Christmas, the joy of the Church in Bethlehem, these are memories I will always cherish. I slipped into the grotto with what I believe was the Aramaic Patriarch and witnessed a beautiful ceremony of prayer over the supposed place of Christ's birth. I still can smell the incense, hear the chanting, see him rhythmically bowing and praying in the small arched basement room filled with thousands of candles surrounding an ornate creche and a hole in the floor above the stone where the manger sat. Beautiful.

23 years later, and I am still at it. Still in ministry. I was back in seminary when that trip happened, and I am still plugging along. Still married to Steph. I was doing these check-ins mid-month, and with Christmas it got away from me. Since our last check-in, we have had our 24th wedding anniversary, and our youngest reached double-digits. How did those precious little ones make it to be so old? They are both the age (or past it) I was when I lost my father. I still cherish every memory I hold of him, and because of that I do everything I can to tell and show them I love and cherish them every day. If nothing else, that tragedy taught me that each day is a gift and we cannot take it for granted.

I try to live that out every day. I remember my father saying all the things he was going to do. Someday. Someday never came. And because I learned that lesson so early, I tend to run to joy. I tend to live in the Now. Or try at least. We get one ride on this Merry-Go-Round, and I attempt to enjoy it for all its worth. And because of that I have little patience. I want Now now. Tomorrow is hard for me.

I have been learning patience. It is becoming increasingly more difficult. The systems within which one must work all have their quirks, knowing them, or even more, avoiding them, is hard. Being increasingly concerned for a job adds an air of desperation that is discomforting to those in the seats of judgment. What comes across as uncomfortable for them is actually deep worry for family and dwindling savings. Working for the church, Unemployment is not an option. That rainy day fund we all have been told to have, I am very thankful we had that. Very thankful, but even that was supposed to last 40 days and 40 nights, and I reminded of that as we enter month six. My last call gave me a wonderful purse when I moved on, and that extended things another month and change. As I talk with churches, I take deep breaths and acknowledge that there is nothing I can do to speed anyone else up. What might be for convenience or situational things on their part, have the ripple effects of weeks of anxious waiting on our parts. One would think in the Church that someone could get a straight answer and open and honest dialogue. Alas, even here it is not so. Churches are human systems, too. Made up well-intentioned human people. Of the several positions I have applied for, I got my first phone call this week from a decent person informing me I did not get another job without hearing it as a public announcement or a Facebook post. Some of the ways I have learned I did not get jobs were doozies. Many of these I was aware were not good fits, and was realistic that I would not be the candidate. What was surprising, however, was the lack of care in the process. The Church as a whole needs to do better. What is good news for one, is heartbreak for others.

So we wait. There are some good conversations happening, thanks be to God, at places where I would be a great fit. But when and if they will come through are not guaranteed. So we wait.

I am thankful for all the side gigs and jobs that have enabled us to make it this far. God is good that way. I am a person of faith, and tend to see it that way. If I am to practice what I preach, I have to see it that way. I am reminded of that today. A light shines in the Dark. The Darkness cannot overcome it, comprehend it, or even compete. Light shines. I embrace the Light. I run to the Light, especially when days are dark. That is good news today, and every day. Epiphany blessings!

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Blessings, Rock