Thursday, May 17, 2007

Vacation to vocation

My wonderful husband and I spent the last few days in Las Vegas with his mother. It was her first time there in 35 years, so we were the "experts". We enjoy Vegas because a) no planning is required to purchase an air/hotel package (and vacation=no planning), b) people will bring you food if you want them to, and c) we can take very long walks or sit by the pool and "b" will still apply. We weren't sure how she would like it (she's a pretty refined and academically-cultural person) and so were nervous going into it. We planned a trip to Quark's Bar (a piece of the huge Star Trek Adventure) as a silliness midway, and because we'd never been. Turns out that was her favorite part: Klingons and Ferengis with her lunch.

Vegas is a funny place for pastors to go: it's like a retailer visiting its major supplier. But it's also this incredible cross-section of humanity: all classes, all races, all ages, many countries. People in saris and shorts and sarongs. Between napping and walking, I remember how similar we all are -- how much we're all looking for hope. And sometimes even tiny conversations in elevators or cabs turn to where my own hope lies.

Today I head to the annual meeting of our local UCC churches, known as "asilomar" because that's where it's been held for a long time. There too no planning is required, food is made for you, and I can take very long walks. But it's not vacation, because I am representing my church and have some duties. I love being with the folks from our church, and am a fan of God's ocean (especially when it's foggy, which it often is there), but I often feel more like a follower of Jesus in Vegas than at Asilomar. In the meetings (not at the beach or with our folks) I feel like a piece of a certain kind of machinery (a very loose machine, of course), rather than of the living body of Christ. I know it's about me -- it's not annual meeting's "fault" -- but the contrast is striking. There I am a paid professional church leader and have to work at following Jesus; on vacation I am a follower among God's people.

Vocation can be found in vacation: in Sin City I remember my source. This time at annual meeting, may Jesus yank me out of profession and back into the joy of discipleship and fellowship.

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