What a crazy, crazy week. Moving was hectic. I think I made 4 trips from Valencia to Santa Barbara in the span of 2 days. Then, it was Sunday. And to be perfectly honest, I haven't felt that under prepared for a Sunday since the days of not paying attention in seminary.
Before I knew it, I was getting dressed and making my way for the first of many Sundays to come (after a quick pit stop to Starbucks, of course).
It was a strange feeling sitting inside the church. And not in a bad way at all. But strange to sit and see so many unfamiliar faces. That is until I looked over and saw three folks from Valencia United Methodist Church who drove to Santa Barbara for moral support. What a true blessing that was! And, a bit embarrassing, because I had planned that my last sermon at VUMC would be very similar to my first sermon at St. Mark. (I can't be the only one who recycles sermons, right?)
Michael Jordan once said that the basketball court was his sanctuary, because in the 48 minutes of the game, no one can come up to him pitching ideas, asking for autographs, wanting something from him etc. For those 48 minutes, he was free to be himself and just play basketball.
To some extent, I get that. Even with all the chaos that led up to Sunday morning, even with the feelings of being a bit unprepared, once worship began, I felt at peace. By the grace of God, we got through the worship celebration without much hiccups. I think that's one of the ways I know that this is truly my calling.
There's a lot to do, only because I believe that there is so much that we, as St. Mark UMC, can accomplish in our community. But, the wise thing to do is take it one step at a time. When I look at the big picture, everything looks daunting and it is easy to get paralyzed with fear, because it's so much for one person to do. But that's the thing: it's not meant for one person to do.
So, first things first: get to know the church community. Those are my first steps of this journey.
We got a head start, as the church wanted us to have lunch with the young married couples. Then we had dinner with the young adults (as the UMC defines them, because I don't really think I'm a young adult anymore…) and formed a life group, which we hope that the rest of the church gets excited about small groups and want to be in one themselves.
I am excited about being the pastor of St. Mark UMC. There's a few things I have to get used to, though. Like, after Sunday, start preparing for a sermon the following Sunday. It was a great perk not having to preach every week. The other thing is to remember/realize that I'm the lead pastor here. During one of our conversation with the life group, I said something and one of the people responded jokingly, “Well, someone who has the power to make that happen should get on it.” And I said, “Yea, they should” until I realized, “Hey wait, that's me!”
While I may not have all the time in the world, there's no need to be in a hurry. Things take time. Relationships take time to form and hold. Changes take time. There's no need to move at a neck-breaking pace. There's no good to come out of that. At the same time, I can't move so slow that I become lethargic and lazy. It's also important to remember that things will happen in God's time and God's way.
Right now, we're still working on moving in and unpacking. That has been a process and an adventure in of itself and eventually, we'll be at a place where we can start making it a home.
I finally unpacked my office, but it looks like a tornado had a tea party in there with its friends.
All in all, God is good and I know that this is going to be fun.
I'm looking forward to what God has in store for all of us.