Last week, a new barista at Starbucks asked me what I do, and before I could think, I heard myself say, “I’ve been set apart as a conspirator for human thriving.” This is why I typically preach from a manuscript: I never know what’s about to come out of my mouth. It’s true, though – I really do think of my vocation like that. Words like “pastor” and “preacher” seem to obscure rather than illuminate what it is I actually do. At this time in history, there are too many connotations and so much baggage to go along with words like that, and none of it matches. I might as well say I’m an ecclesial engineer for all the clarity it would provide.
This weekend, after a year of preparation and written examinations, I will stand before an assembly of Evangelical Presbyterian elders at one of our Central South Presbytery’s seasonal meetings. There, they will publicly examine me on my knowledge and views according to Scripture and the Reformed tradition. If they are satisfied (Lord, let them be satisfied!), then they will receive my ordination on transfer and I will be installed by a commission on Sunday as your Associate Pastor, (since our members so graciously voted to call me to serve as such last week). We’ve invited my cousin, best friend, and fellow pastor, the Rev. Dr. Matthew Sliger to preach the gospel to us from Colossians 3, since he’s a man who has known me both dead in sin and raised to new life in Christ.
If all that seems a bit cumbersome to you, suffice to say I gladly and willingly submitted to the yearlong process of courses, interviews, and exams, because I believe it allows me to serve you with integrity and allows you to trust that I’m qualified to do so. But after all that Presbyterian pomp recedes into the background of circumstance, I’ll be left with you, and you with me. “Life in the mundane” at St. Patrick Pres. will resume, and my accepted scruples with regard to Chapter 21 of the Westminster Confession probably won’t come up in conversation too much. But rest assured, you and I will spend quality time as co-conspirators to see the church in Collierville embody Christ in the everyday as we make disciples who Love God, Love People, and Love Life. And for that, I am very glad to give my life.