We walk into the church and receive an engaging welcome, as two greeters celebrate our presence. “If you’d only come in a couple weeks,” they playfully jest, “you’d be able to meet our new minister.” They’re most excited about her arrival, anxious for her time as their shepherd to begin. I tease that we could leave and come back later. They assume I’m joking, but to be safe, they urge us to stay today – and then come back in two weeks.
We head into the sanctuary and soon another member approaches. After greeting and exchanging names, he shares with enthusiasm that in a couple weeks their new minister will arrive. He oozes excitement, unable to contain his glee.
As more conversations unfold, we learn their new leader is a recent seminary grad and this will be her first church. She’s in her late twenties. Even before her arrival, she’s pumping fresh life into this mostly older congregation. Her ordination occurred yesterday, but in order to fulfill an existing commitment, it will be a couple more weeks before she can actually join them.
Today’s guest speaker celebrates yesterday’s ordination and the impending arrival of their new minister. Before we leave, several more people reiterate this news. There’s a collective anticipation over her arrival.
This church welcomes us well: before the service, after the service, and during the official greeting time within the service. They excel at this and are among the best we’ve encountered on our journey. But my key impression is the anticipation they have for their new minister.
I pray for their success; may all go well. Perhaps when our journey is over, we can make a return visit.