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  • "A Musing Pastor"

Arriving? or Belonging.


Whether it is right or wrong is to be debated, but I tend to operate on this principle, "When entering a room full of strangers, walk in like you own the room." This has served me well except for that time I entered a church door and stepped into the front of the sanctuary filled with people. Awkward! Sort of weird and uncomfortable to have many sets of eyes focused on you. Oh well, live and learn. The premise includes a sense of walking into situations not as one who pridefully processes in, but rather one who walks in and displays confidence in self and ability to thrive. Calling can bring that kind of confidence. When we are where God desires us to be, belonging is second nature.

I've been rereading a book on leadership and ran across this statement from the author. "I struggle with self-confidence, which can be both a burden and a blessing. It keeps me from feeling like I have arrived but sometimes prevents me from feeling like I belong." (Catalyst Leader: Lomenick, pg. 34-35).

The author is unfolding the concept of being authentic and wants to assist the reader into finding one's true self. In leadership, authenticity is crucial. People will often quickly see through a fake person simply because they are seeking the 'real deal' and fail to see evidence of realness. In a world of photoshop, airbrushing, and nips and tucks, authenticity is a rare but treasured commodity.

I'm wondering out loud about Joseph the carpenter. He must have been comfortable in his own skin. He sought to marry a girl named Mary. Upon discovering her to be with child he chose to divorce her secretly to avoid conflict for him and punishment for her. Scripture mentions Joseph's righteousness. He appeared to operate on a godly value system. Joseph listened to God's messenger and confidently obeyed to take Mary as his wife. I'm guessing since Joseph was a carpenter, he was careful, meticulous, and confident of the adage, "Measure twice; cut once."

Consider Joseph and Mary's entrance into Joseph's hometown. One would think if you are going back to your hometown, there would be a place for you to stay. These were Bethlehemites and extended members of Joseph's family. Yet, Joseph's 'arrival' brought no special treatment. He did what people do when they sense they 'belong' in a place. They adapt and move on. In all my reading and understanding of Joseph, he appeared to be humble and reverent.

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. (Luke :1-7, NIV)

As leaders go, Joseph was one who knew where he belonged and didn't go barging into Bethlehem demanding things. He did follow through on God's command to be the husband and earthly father of a newborn baby. He was obedient to government's edict to be counted in a census. He consented to allow his wife to give birth in a cattle stall for crying out loud! That does not sound like someone who goes about in a demanding way. He was being true to himself and to the one God had created him to be.

One week out from our Christmas celebration and we desire to enter into our churches with a sense that we belong there. We'll not barge into these places of faith demanding anything of God. God would speak in that still small voice to tell us, "I've given you Jesus; what else do you need?"

Wherever we go today, it is with an attitude that the God of all Creation goes before us. We walk confidently into the future as we listen to God's calling into ministry. We'll know we have arrived when we feel as though we belong.


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First United Methodist Church, Lewistown, PA 17044  ~  717-248-4618   ~  fumc200@outlook.com