Yes, we have surfaced after our house move, travel to family in NJ, and staying with friends. Our belongings are scattered in at least five different locations and, in spite of warnings about how easy it is to lose track, certain key documents that should have remained accessible are now at mystery locations. No wonder my blog has been quiet of late! Before I write anything else I must follow up my last (distant) post. Michael Duduit wrote (thanks for commenting Michael) that "Nothing really can be said in defense of the annual Call Sunday." And, oh, what negative experiences I have heard from others.
One really troubled me. Like a retired pastor: "I could write a few short stories about the laymen's control technique of humiliating and limiting the pastor's call from God which can too easily be trumped by the laymen's local church accountability technique under the threat of an annual 'vote of confidence'. I personally lived through three different unpleasant and still vivid memory experiences as a sixth grader, high school youth and college student in three different churches in three different states. When I was a pastor I was confronted with the threat of such a vote in three different pastoral assignments. I negotiated a 'no contest' surrender with the promise that if I did not point fingers at 'the enemy' (I saw that done when I was a high schooler), recruit an army, or do battle - that I promised to move along as quickly as feasible.
One case it tok 13 months, another 18 months and the last one was 8 months. I am not a fighter. I left with a clear conscience and a clear call to do just what I did - with God's grace to forgive and God's peace to reward. I have been back or invited to come back to all the churches in question. I have a clear conscience as I watch the rseponse of those who were responsible. I am at peace even with them. Time has proved that Romans 8:28 applies in just such a case as that."
Grace triumphs eventually but what an incredibly sad story. I know that we pastors can really fail the Lord and our people, and sometimes mistake God's call on our lives as well as to particular places. Yes, we can get it wrong. But what a challenge about the destructive power-structures of some of our churches. There are Christian ways of behaving, but regularly reviewing a pastor's call as an open season for easy abuse is not one of them!