If you come to our house in the next several weeks, there is a pretty good chance that you will find us watching a college basketball game, or at least that one is playing on one of our two televisions as background to something else that we are doing. Yes, as a Christian pastor, I know that we are in the season of Lent, but we are also in the season most commonly and fondly known as March Madness, leading up to the Final Four tournament and the crowning of the NCAA Division 1 basketball champs.
Another thing that you will figure out, if you spend any time in conversation with me, is that I am going through my own March Madness. There has been a lot of transition in my life in the last year, and I and God decided that we should just turn everything upside down and inside out all at once. Some of my closest friends have suggested that the last year and a half since my cancer and staph infection have made me much more definitive and decisive when it comes to how I will spend my time remaining on this earthly plane, regardless of the length. I think that is probably true.
This week, a letter went to my congregation letting them know that I will be ending my five and a half year ministry there and that I am moving into a 3/4 time interim associate position at First Presbyterian Church of Livermore. I have wrestled with the uncertainty of this but the theme of joy that I am carrying with me through this Lent was actually one of the biggest deciding factors. When I met with the search committee at Livermore, the resounding theme of our conversation was genuine, free and infectious laughter. I still hear it echoing in my soul. If you know me at all, you know that I require a certain amount of laughter in my day.
Don't get me wrong, there has been joy in my current call. However, in the last couple of years, grief and loss have been a more predominant theme. I have been so privileged to walk with so many people in their times of illness, loss and recovery. It just is a lot to carry alone. I've learned in this solo pastor call that it is not for the faint of heart and it probably is not the role best suited for me. I sincerely like being "the boss" but I don't like doing the job alone. I need other peers around me who compliment my own gifts and growing edges and people who will collaborate with me on a regular base to plan, solve problems and, yes, laugh!