Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The best of times, the worst of times...

Today I visited three shut-ins in Columbus, probably the last time I will see them on this side of the kingdom of glory. Earlier in the day I had seen the newly released schedule of rotations for the responsibilities the curcuit pastors share (Lutheran Home services, daily radio devotions, etc.). My name was nowhere to be found. I continue to be reminded that I am now in the last month of my vicarage year. I can think of only one phrase to describe this: bitter-sweet.

Recently, I have frequetnly been asked two seemingly opposed questions: "Are you sad about leaving?" and "Are you excited to go back to St. Louis?" As I try to answer these questions honestly, I am convinced that the answer to both questions is the same: "Yes."

It will be hard to leave Seymour. Jamie and I have been blessed to live in a gorgeous, historic, home. We have made friends here at the church, and in the community. The community of Seymour would be a great place to raise a child, with strong Lutheran schools, and much support. There are more holes of golf (54) per capita in Seymour than anywhere else in the state (I think). Jamie was able to coach swimming, and I was able to coach baseball. These are all positive aspects of our year in Hoosier land, and I haven't even mentioned any of the reasons directly associated with my vicarage.

What can I say, I couldn't have asked for a better vicarage placement. While there are no perfect congregations, Immanuel has been a huge blessing to bothe Jamie and I. My supervisor is an outstanding mentor, and model for pastoral ministry. All three pastors are great to learn from, and we get along great. This is truly a healthy team ministry. The support staff is, well, EXTREMELY supportive. I have built lasting relationships with individuals through teaching Bible class, confirmation instruction, a Washington D.C. trip, a Louisiana trip, hospital visits, and shut-in calls. I have been with people in their most happy moments (birth of a child), and at the most difficult (death of a spouse). YES, it will be hard to leave Seymour-Bitter.

I am, however, excited to go back to St. Louis. Jamie and I found out last week that we have a place to live, and a job to go with it. I have tickets to three Cardinals games in the new Busch Stadium. Jamie will get to see many of the youth she served at Peace for two years. We will see MANY awesome friends we made at the seminary and other places. We have family there. I will be playing baseball again, not just coaching it.

There are also many things to look forward to associated with the fourth year of the seminary. I will go through the call process, and in late April, "Lord willing," I will find out where I will serve as pastor following my graduation and ordination. Graduation, and ordination--two more things to look forward to. I will be an intramural captain with a great friend. I will be able to play pick-up baskeball again in the afternoon, rather than at 6 a.m. I will have access to a weight room. But the greatest source of excitement is:


Suffice it to say, the only honest answer to both of these, seemingly opposed, questions is, "Yes." Those of you from Seymour who might read this, Jamie and I will miss you. Those of you from St. Louis, we are looking forward to breaking bread with you soon.

In the end, I shouldn't be surprised by these seemingly opposed realities. After all, we Lutherans delight in paradox.

Monday, June 26, 2006

What's in a name anyway?

After aproximately three years of reading the blogs of others, I was recently motivated to join the world of "internet musings," where the numerous minds of many ruminate. While spending more time as of late reading some of these ruminations, I have been both dismayed by dreadful declarations, and encouraged by excellent efforts to expose truth. Indeed, there is much variety in this never-ending world of the blog--from the family update, to the scholarly review.

A few months ago, I was translating Matthew 26 for a sermon I was scheduled to preach. I was taken back when I came across my name right there in the greek text. Now, while I was growing up there was a plaque hanging on a wall at home for each member of the family, which displayed the meaning of our names. One plaque read Gregory: Watchful One. Aside from knowing that I was named after both of my grandfathers (Gregory being my paternal grandfather, and Ruben, my maternal), and joking about Gregory the Great (Pope from 590-604), I had no other knwowledge as to the history of my given name.

When Jesus told Peter, James, and John to "Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation," he actually told them to "Gregoreo." I never knew I had a biblical name. Actually, my name isn't even a proper noun, it's a verb--how about that!

1 Corinthians 16:13 reads, "Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong." This is part of the exhortation Paul gives to the congregatin at Corinth in his letter. It is also the benchmark for the posts and discussion on this blog.

Undoubtedly, I will post about my family, my faith, the Church, baseball, and many other topics. There will be serious posts, and commical posts. There will also be posts which will have seemed commical at the time they were composed. It is my prayer that the thoughts posted, and the words used to express them, would not, however, bring glory to my name, but to the only one whose name deserves worship and praise-Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Until that day, when Jesus comes to judge the living and the dead, I will simply keep watch, and attempt to post something worthwhile.

Enjoy, and please feel free to post your comments.