Among God’s especially tender mercies is a lovely bubble bath called “Overtired and Cranky”. It’s for children, but I find it works equally well on overtired and cranky old ministers. It comes with a wand so that those who are overtired and cranky can also blow bubbles around the bathroom while they’re soaking. God is good beyond our gift for telling.
In an overtired and cranky moment some years ago (before I had access to this lovely bubble bath), I ranted in a small meeting of colleagues that I was tired of spending so much time and energy as a parish pastor asking and persuading and encouraging and asking again and figuring out new ways to persuade brothers and sisters to do simply what we all vowed to God we would do when we joined the congregation: attend worship faithfully, contribute a percentage of our annual income to the work of the church, continue to grow as disciples, live lives sufficiently virtuous that Jesus didn’t get a bad name around town on our account. We made vows. We promised God.
When not overtired and cranky, it’s easier to remember that fulfilling these vows is a lifelong journey made with our daily decisions and God’s daily grace. And there are icy stretches, construction zones, loose gravel, and wrong turns along the way – along with smooth miles for zooming.
If you are reading the weekly cymbalta side effects depression email from the office of the Iowa Conference, you very likely have joined a congregation. And made vows. Promised God that, with God’s help, there were decisions you would faithfully make: to attend, to give, to grow, to behave in ways that glorify the One in whose name we gather.
I’m writing to you on my ordination anniversary. The day’s travels will bring me home in time to pour a glass of my favorite sparkling juice and light the red Pentecost candle in my prayer space. With time to read an old bulletin. Time for tears. Penitence. Grace. Vision. Time for a deep, long listen in God’s presence. Memories of the road from there to here. A fresh, blank page. Time to raise grateful sighs for the gift of a life that could be vowed and can be vowed.
It’s just morning light now. I’m sending these words to you with my prayers. That the vows we made to God a little while ago or a very long while ago may still stir us to awe and gratitude. That we may recognize the help God is sending us to keep them. That we may decide with love, joy, grit – and enough abandon to raise some dust- to do and keep doing what we promised God we would.
Jonna Jensen, Associate Conference Minister