“Welcome Home” Accepted call to Lindenwood Christian Church

In the whirlwind that has become my life this past month, I decided to accept a call to ministry at Lindenwood Christian Church in Memphis Tennessee.

I spent time at Lindenwood over the weekend of June 11th. I attended services. I spent a morning with the search committee. Throughout my visit, I felt complete warmth and encouragement from the Lindenwood community. I pictured myself there.

Actually, the feelings Andrew and I shared at Lindenwood that weekend reminded us of the continued warmth and comfort we feel at Hope Central.

For our entire relationship, Hope Central has served as an important refuge for us. We came from different faith backgrounds. We explored different sanctuaries and styles of worship together as we sought a spiritual path for our relationship. And, through all of our relationship, our hearts remained tethered to the Hope Community.

Hope Central is the first Christian pulpit where Andrew preached.

Hope Central was the Jamaica Plain feature that moved us across the river from Somerville during Christmas, 2008.

Hope Central is the place Andrew and I discerned our call to ministry, and felt supported to pursue it in the summer of 2009.

Hope Central’s sanctuary is the first place Andrew and I co-lead worship as we continue to discern our call to joint ministry.

Hope Central is the place where Andrew and I first announced our call to ministry in Memphis.

It will be hard to leave.

I accepted a call to ministry at Lindenwood because I hope and pray that we will find a new tether in that community. We felt embraced there and welcomed there.

Today, I received a little note from a lovely woman on the Lindenwood Search Committee. The subject read “welcome home”:

Dear Sarah and Andrew,

I can’t help but be filled with a feeling of bookends… the two of you are somehow forever connected to my journey in a fun way` serendipitous it seems. Sarah you will make an incredible impact on the home of my faith and Andrew you will make an incredible impact on the non profit home that means most to me (Bridges). I can’t wait to see all that you two will accomplish and create in Memphis!

Welcome home!

Lisa

Her note immediately flooded my heart and mind with the calm, inviting love that I associate with Hope Central.

So we’re off. We’ll go to Memphis, eyes, arms, and hearts wide open.

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Eureka!

Andrew and I are off to Eureka later this month. Eureka, Illinois, that is.

As part of our journey through ordination, we have decided to enroll in a week long, intensive course to brush up on our Disciples polity. Recently, we both quit our Boston jobs. We negotiated a September start date for our new Memphis jobs, and, we’ve decided to focus on retreat and renewal for the next two months as we pack up our lives.

From July 19th to July 23rd, we will be staying in the dorms of Eureka College and spending 26 hours in a classroom for a rapid course in Disciples History and Polity. We will share the classroom with 28 other students. We’re thrilled. We’ve started reading our collection of articles, essays, and speeches to prepare for this course. We’ve started imagining our sunny afternoons on the campus of this historic Disciples college. I particularly cherish the opportunity we will have in our early marriage to learn together and study together.

We actually decided to fly straight from Belize City (our honeymoon destination) to this week-long course. Whether we simply review the traditions of our beloved denomination, or we experience moments of complete ‘eureka!’, we’re ready, and excited! The course at Eureka College will continue to propel our journey to ordination. Exciting, Amen!

Fear and Courage

These days, I feel the tight grip of fear in my stomach every so often as I think about the future. Sometimes I want to just shout “stop the ride! I want off!” I imagine escaping to my family’s cabin in northern Idaho with a simple book and the warm sun. No cell phone. No computer. No job applications floating out there. No change knocking at the door. Just safety and familiarity all around me.

Andrew and I are about to take a huge plunge in our life. We are moving to Memphis Tennessee. There are nights when we just cry. Mourning the loss of our city, our safe nest in Jamaica Plain, our deep rooted community. The tears also come from fear. Will we be accepted and embraced in Memphis? Will we live up to our big professional opportunities? And yet, we also find courage when we think about the wide open doors in front of us, and the daily reminders that God wants us in Memphis.

The Spirit is at work in our lives. We were both blessed with incredible jobs in Memphis. We easily signed a lease with new tenants who will take over our lovely nest in Jamaica Plain. Everything is falling into place and we are assured that the Spirit is at work.

Tonight, I wanted to write a prayer asking for a clear path for the delicate walk along the fence between fear and courage.

Creator, sustainer, God.
Already, you have shown me your steadfast love and guidance.
Yet, tonight, I’m humbly asking for more.
Anchor me to your will.
Tether me to the purpose you have written into my narrative.
Steady me when I feel the tremble of worry and doubt.
Embrace me through the love of my community, my church and the Church.
Illuminate yourself through the open hands and open hearts of your beloved community in Memphis.
I cry out to you in this time of change and I trust the path you have created for me.
You know my heart. It is with you. Calm my quickened pulse and help me find courage.

Amen.

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