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:
THE BIRTH, AND SUBSEQUENT BAPTISM, OF OUR FIRST CHILD IN OCTOBER--TALK ABOUT EXCITING! Sweet.
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.