Last week, I wrote about my experience with some forms of shopping that I have tried in the 19 months I have lived in this beautiful rural community. I blogged about “shopping” at match dot com for a nice, educated, liberal male living in somewhat close proximity to me who could be a dinner date, a dancing partner, someone to talk to who would understand the idiosyncrasies of this life I am called to.
One of the “matches” whom I met told me that I was not clear about what I was seeking. He is spot on. I deliberately was not clear about the kind of companion who would be a match. Here he is: Someone who can carry on an intelligent conversation, a friend who is empathetic, one who might go bike riding if we found a level path and would like to have a picnic as part of the ride. Shortly before my three-month subscription ended, I devised an experiment on how to attract men - I revised my profile, taking education from Ph.D./post-doc to BA, changed music interests from more classical to C&W, added line dancing and otherwise modified the picture of me to see what would happen.
Several men did wink at me but they winked at a fictional character. Would they be interested in the “real” me? At the core of the real me is that I am an ordained minister, that I work full time as a pastor of a new church that I am called to start: A church that is different - a liberal church in conservative Tioga County, Pennsylvania. People shy away from ministers. They assume we are different – I am not sure, but I think that means that I have a halo though I have never seen one or that I have a shepherd’s crook that pulls them into the church doors they are avoiding.
The truth is that when I started seminary, my friends could barely believe I was going to change my occupation and become a minister. I have a loud laugh, tell off-color jokes (now just in select circles and they never were that bad), flunked “prayer chain” at my UCC church in Colorado Springs because I always forgot to pray consciously for the people who asked for prayers, and could not pronounce the words in the Hebrew Bible. However, it is true, I am called to ministry. My call is to be a different type minister – a minister who starts churches, who helps churches grow, but who does not stay at one church for a 30-year pastorate.
I am not proud that I in my life I am reluctant to tell those I meet in social situations that I am a minister. We ministers must have terrible reputations for grabbing every person by the collar and trying to convert each person who happens to pass by.
I am not proud that when asked what I do, the first thing I say is that I work with people and if pressed, that I do counseling (which I rarely do) and only when pressed to say where I work, or to give my business card do new acquaintances learn that I am a minister. Talk about “hiding my light under a bushel tree” when the part that should be is “this little light of mine.”
This past Sunday, I preached an Easter sermon about Mary, the first convert and her imperative to “go tell the others.” I, too, am required to go tell the others. I just wish the others would not judge me by the actions of others they have known. In turn, I will try not to judge them by some obscure standard. So when you see me coming, you will see that I am a minister; not to worry: you will only be converted if the spirit leads you.
P.S. I found some clothes in Ithaca yesterday (at Fantasy and Fiber).