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Thursday, June 26, 2014
            I read a story today in ESPN magazine (not on purpose) about a pastor who hates baseball but provides ministerial support for umpires. Apparently, since the early days of baseball, umpires have not only received their share of abuse, they’ve been killed over their baseball calls. Fortunately, the main ribbing they get nowadays is verbal, but nonetheless the constant berating, even through Facebook, could get to a person. Enter the pastor. He drives and even flies all over the place to give sermons, pray, baptize and even perform weddings for umpires. He will take calls at 2:00 a.m. to comfort an umpire. This is his calling—to give comfort to the afflicted, including sports figures. The pastor told the journalist that in his younger days (he’s my age—48) when he had pastored in rural churches, he had hopes of pastoring in a nice church with stain glassed windows. Now, his church is the baseball field and the locker room.

            I couldn’t help but think of my own calling when I read this piece. It is not just in undergraduate traditional universities that encourage and support the students to find a focus and work towards career goals; those of us who attended graduate theological programs also felt encouraged to focus on a particular avenue of calling. I did this for awhile, thinking so hard about what I wanted to do, but all it did was what I call “kick up the dust.” The desperate need to know caused a cloud of doubt and no clarity, so I gave up trying to know and just focused on completing my degree, which worked. Now I’m back to the wondering again, which seems silly, but I can’t help it. I live in a forward thinking mind that wonders where my place is in this very nontraditional vocation.

            I am happy to have the members and friends of Kairos-Milwaukie as part of this journey. I know enough about my relationship with God to know that often I don’t know the destination until I’m comfortable with the journey (needless to say, I haven’t always been comfortable). I wonder if Abraham EVER had doubts about his journey. Sunday we talk about Abraham and the beginning of the Jewish covenant, the promise of God to the people to hang in there during the rough times, during the times of not understanding, for God is a compassionate God who will not allow his people to stumble long.

So the story on Sunday focuses on Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son for the sake of his new relationship with God. I couldn’t do that. How much is God now asking us to do, or is asking us to do anything? These are the questions I ponder in front of you on Sunday. Who knows where our journey winds up. Abraham didn’t know that at the end of his life, he would only own a burial plot and have one heir (from which the “nation” of Israel was to be produced). But obviously, it was not about the destination, but the journey—the continual ability for God’s followers to keep the faith. The pastor for the umpires did not feel any less “called” as a minister for umpires. Those umpires need him, no less than a congregation of 1000 or 100 people need to work on the spiritual journey.

Let us be grateful for the journey of faith—for me, it’s the faith not the destination that grows.

In Peace, Joanna


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Kairos-Milwaukie UCC Blog

Reflections on the Revised Common Lectionary by Rev. Rick Skidmore and Rev. Jim Ogden.

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