“3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.” — Romans 6:3-8
“23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. 24 Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds!” — Luke 12:23-24
During the church seasons of Lent and Advent, I find myself trending more mystic than constructive or systematic theologian. I find myself with a desire to read more poetry, to observe art, to write more, to lose myself to my thoughts…
This Lent, however, resigning myself to my thoughts is a scary proposition. This year, during this Lent, I find myself nearing the end of my four year journey of seminary, preparing to graduate, anticipating being called to a church…but before those things happen, I must first be Assigned.
Assignment, for those not hip to the jargon, is the process by which the candidates that have been Approved for Ordination in the ELCA are assigned to one of 9 regions and subsequently assigned to one of 65 synods within those regions. Regions and synods are essentially a way of breaking up the US into smaller geographic groups of congregations and faith communities. Each region has a handful of smaller synods within it, and each synod has roughly 100+ congregations within it. And yes, being Assigned means we are “told” where we are going rather than the candidates going out and finding their own jobs. (Note: I don’t love the language of being “told where I’m going” because it really is a much more prayerful and spiritual process than simply pulling names out of a hat, but for the sake of simplicity, it’s a helpful way to describe what happens during this process.)
As we hurtle toward the dates of Assignment—next Monday and Tuesday, February 15 and 16, for those of you keeping score at home—I find myself struggling to find a resting place on a sliding continuum between the desire to be in a place where I feel like I want to be and a desire to serve a church that has many and numerous needs in a variety of contexts in a myriad of locations.
At the end of the day, I trust that I’ve done everything I can to spell out the gifts I have for ministry, to highlight the settings and contexts which I feel like would most benefit from my gifts, and to be clear about the needs of my family as it relates to where we are able to be successful in our respective vocations. At the end of the day, I trust that the people reading through my paperwork have done so with the same care and prayerful concern that I did when I wrote and submitted it. At the end of the day, I trust that I will be called to a place where I can most effectively use my gifts for ministry to serve God and God’s church.
…..I guess that’s why they call it faith…..
And even though trust is not an easy thing at all, I take great comfort in knowing that Paul in Romans and Jesus in Luke speak with such certainty about things unknown. How much more surely will we be united with Christ in a resurrection like his? Of how much more value are you than the plants and animals of creation?
How much more, indeed.