“Itinerant Priest”. That is the name of my blog / website. I switched to this handle as I started Interim work.
Does that mean I have to change again?
Nope. Although I am beyond delighted and excited to accept the call of St. Simon’s on the Sound in Ft. Walton Beach to be their Rector (NOT THE INTERIM RECTOR!), one thing I have said at every stop I have made in 14 years of ordained ministry is this – every priest you have ever had was just passing through. Some for longer than others. But we all arrive and we all go, while you stay – you the glue, the workers, the true center and real strength and spirit led people of God, it’s your church. Of course, more accurately, it’s God’s church, but the body of Christ you are is the real deal, the real thing, the church. I am honored to pass through yet again.
St. Simon’s will be my sixth parish in 14 years, but only 2nd “tenured” Rector position. I served St. Patrick’s Long Beach longer than any priest in their 50+ years of existence. The circumstances are well documented, it was hard work with beautiful people. The three interim positions have been challenging and fun and thrilling. Yet all along, we were hoping for another place to put down some roots, have some time to dream with people and see how God responds. Finally, that time has come.
Jennifer and I have made no secret of our desire to return to Mississippi if at all possible. Through these two Florida interims, I have remained (which is the custom) canonically resident in the Diocese of Mississippi. I have returned for Diocesan council and other meetings, I was privileged to serve again on the General Convention deputation, I got to cast my vote for the new Bishop. And, frankly, I tried my best to return, yet in each case those opportunities did not work out.
So when the reading from Acts on the 6th Sunday of Easter came around, it was high time I listened to the Holy Spirit. Don’t you think?
6 They went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. 7When they had come opposite Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them; 8so, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas. 9During the night Paul had a vision: there stood a man of Macedonia pleading with him and saying, ‘Come over to Macedonia and help us.’ 10When he had seen the vision, we immediately tried to cross over to Macedonia, being convinced that God had called us to proclaim the good news to them.
The first 3 verses above are not part of the Sunday lectionary reading but are important to the story. Paul had decided where he should go next. Yet at every turn, he was blocked.
Paul my friend, I know the feeling. Not that I am anything like St. Paul, but I too had a plan figured out and the end result was a lot of disappointment and resentfulness and questioning, when all along some folks in Macedonia were needing some help.
I am so glad the Holy Spirit didn’t give up on my stubborn self!
So we are off to Macedonia….I mean Ft. Walton Beach! There, just like Paul, I will find some people who are already gathering regularly to pray. May we all be open to the Holy Spirit as we seek to serve Christ and our communities the best we can, with God’s help of course.
I can’t wait to get started!