This morning I visited my old running group for their annual mid-winter sauna run and brunch at a runner’s home. It was my first time back since coming to Resurrection. After our brief Bible study, most went for a six-mile run, while my friend Tim and I tried some snowshoe jogging on a nearby lake. Gary, the host, loaned me his new shoe shows to try. Tim and I weren’t fast, but we had a blast staying upright. When we got back it was time for sauna, brunch and conversation.
It was great fun seeing old friends, swapping stories and telling some tall tales. Many of us have run together for more than eight years, so the stories have gained some embellishment over time. Who amazed me this morning was a newcomer named Joe. Tim had invited him after working out together at the Y. Joe had never run with the group, only knew Tim (who did not run this morning) and had only a vague idea what would happen. I like to think the running club provides great hospitality, but it always takes courage to walk into an established group, especially on such a social occasion. Joe ran the six miles, enjoyed the sauna and brunch and smiled as we told our stories. He plans to be back.
As a new pastor in a young congregation, I sort of feel like Joe each Sunday morning. I seek to fully participate, to learn names, and to listen to the stories. People at Resurrection Lutheran Church have warmly welcomed me, that’s for sure. I am excited to be with them. Yet I am still the newcomer, without the history, the mileage that comes with time. I want to race ahead, but right now it’s learning to be patient and consistently present.
I sort of wonder how the disciples felt after their first days with Jesus. They knew exciting days were ahead, but each day held something of a surprise. What was coming?
Are you a newcomer, an old-timer, or somewhere-in-between in your faith community? How does that affect your attitude and actions?