Our grandson is five. He is beginning to want to help, with things like baking pumpkin muffins, which I think he experienced in kindergarten over Halloween. Anyway, he came into the kitchen and saw all the ingredients being assembled on the counter. “Can I help?” he asked.
Have you ever seen a five year old help with baking? We brought a stool out of the pantry and positioned him in front of the counter and the mixing bowls. He helped level the flour in the measuring cup (at least much of it). Dipped the measuring spoon into baking soda, only spilling some of it on the counter, deposited the rest into the mixture. Then came the eggs! He took one and tapped it down on the counter, perhaps just a little too hard, and with guidance, deposited most of it into the separate bowl, using his finger to move the remaining egg white from the shell to the bowl. He helped measure the oil and stir it into the eggs, buttermilk and pumpkin mixture.
What a mess! And later, after they came out of the oven, what wonderful, tasty pumpkin muffins!
As we ate the still warm, just out of the oven muffins, I reflected on, what else, interim ministry! We had fun! We made a mess! And the muffins were delicious! And best of all, a five year old is learning to measure and sift and combine ingredients to make a finished product. He is learning to follow instructions and to persevere when it seems the egg shell hit the counter too hard. And he is learning that his efforts can produce something good. And if you get some eggshell in the bowl – you can get it out!
Our congregations are often unfamiliar with the joy of discovery that is a part of every transition. Often they begin by wanting the process to be finished and get on with their ministry.
It would have been much easier to simply have our grandson watch as we made muffins. It is perhaps easier to glide into a congregation as it begins a time of transition and take over the helm providing pastoral care, preparing liturgy, overseeing anything and everything. It is both harder and messier (not on the level of a five year old learning to measure and mix ingredients) as even adults learning new skills involve an expected level of error and miscalculation.
I wonder how many of us who do intentional interim ministry enter a new congregation with an invitation to ask questions, explore possibilities and try new things. It is, after all, the possibility of needing a new wineskin along with the wine!
What are some of the things that you have tried? What are your experiences that have been messy but have produced something special?