I am looking forward to our Blue Christmas service tomorrow night. It is a service (also called "Longest Night") that recognizes that this time of year is not always merry and bright. It's almost always frenetically busy, filled with good things that are accompanied by stress. For some people, this is the most depressing time of the year, for many different reasons. For those who have experienced loss around Christmas, the grief is accentuated in contrast to the joy of the season. For many people, societal and self-expectations of how we "should" be feeling at this time just leave us feeling more empty if we don't. I think for many people, to a degree, this is a very complicated season - one in which joy breaks through and sometimes bombards the spirit, and one in which the fullness sometimes leaves us feeling empty.
This has been a very complicated season in my life, too. A month ago, I announced my intention to dissolve my pastoral relationship with the congregation that my husband and I have been serving for the past three years. Leaving a call is difficult, and as this has been our first call, it is particularly so. That difficulty is further complicated by the fact that my husband is staying in this position, and will be moving up to full time. I am leaving, but I am not moving. I will continue to live in the same, small town, and now find myself in a new position - that of Pastor's wife. I never wanted to be a "Pastor's Wife" - my call has been to be a pastor! And to further complicate things, though some church expectations are that I will now be the "Pastor's Wife," as soon-to-be-former pastor, I will need to step away from the church entirely, allowing for the necessary transition for Andy and for the congregation.
I have been in a bit of a lame duck period, still actively engaged in the work that I do here, while also having to hold back, to initiate transitions. I still catch myself saying "Next year we can..." and things like that. I have had people ask what I can and can't do after I leave, and when I can be back in worship. I don't know the answers to those things, in part because I need to feel it out, to discern and exercise discretion, and to play it by ear, case by case.
I also can't answer those questions because I don't know what the future holds for me. I have said that I definitely won't be in worship between Jan. 1 and Easter, but by March I could have a new call. I hope to continue preaching on a regular basis, and as a member of the Committee on Ministry I will also be visiting the churches to whom I am a liaison. I already have a number of things scheduled for January and February, and with three committees that I am serving on (two Presbytery, one General Assembly), my plate is and will continue to be full. I am also looking into contract work options that I could do from home, or mostly from home, but I don't have anything definite lined up yet.
In other words, I am waiting. And this waiting stuff isn't easy. There is grieving over my leaving the congregation - on their part and on mine - but there is also some anger. I suppose that is normal. In the midst of this there has been another difficult personnel change - difficult for us, difficult for the person involved, and difficult for the church - and there are complicated feelings about that, too.
I am waiting, and waiting is not easy. But what better time of year to be in a season of waiting than Advent? And so I wait. I wait for revelation of where God is calling me to be. I wait for better days, and trust that they are ahead. I wait. What more can be done? That's the point, I guess - the waiting is the doing, or at least what must be done. Doing otherwise is just a distraction when what is called for is waiting. And so I wait.