When I started seventh grade, I was in a club that asked us what we wanted to be when we grew up. We were told to write our answers down on a piece of paper and keep it somewhere where we’d see it again in several years.
I recently found it again all these years later and I bet you’ll be surprised as to what it said.
I got "saved" at a Carman concert when I was 12. It wasn’t the first time. But it was the first time I asked Jesus into my heart publicly, at an altar call. My friends and I became disciples overnight.
I wasn't, however, a disciple of Jesus—at least not directly. If I was discipled to anyone in middle school, it was to the pop stars of the contemporary Christian music scene.
I serve my congregation as lead pastor, having grown from not at all thinking about pastoral ministry to being called and curious, and now having been in ministry for over 20 years. From my initial call to ordination to increasing responsibility with other staff, I feel as if my church has been one step ahead of me, more ready for me to take on leadership than I envisioned for myself.
In 2004, Brenda Cole—a colleague in a group dedicated to improving the spiritual lives of LGBT people—asked me to preside at her wedding, scheduled more than a year away. “Nancy is a lifelong Presbyterian and wants a Presbyterian minister to preside at our wedding," Brenda said hopefully. "Would you meet with us and talk about officiating?”
When I am not involved in matters religious or scholarly, one of my favorite escapes is science fiction and fantasy literature or media. My favorite series is The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan.
The series focuses on the actions of four friends, pushed by circumstances from their little village into the larger world. They discover along the way that they are meant to play central roles in the coming Last Battle of the Ages.
Ordinarily, when Paul Ryan puts something out about poverty and social spending, the response is predictable and polarized. The senior House Republican and 2012 vice presidential nominee likes Ayn Rand and small government and racially coded criticism. We know what box to put him in.
A few Sundays ago I preached in a church that has three different worship services in three different locations within the church. One is a moderately sized chapel, one is a voluminous fellowship hall with a stage at one end, and the last one is the original sanctuary of the old downtown church. The variations in space accompanied the differences in worship style. The one thing all three had in common was a clock easily seen from the pulpit.