Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A letter to my pastors and congregations

This is a letter that I sent out with my ordination invitations to congregations that I have been a member of and served along with the ordained pastors, youth workers, parish assistants and other who have help formed me in my faith life. Don't know why I didn't post it sooner:

To all the “Pastors” and Churches in my life

Thank you! In a few weeks I will be ordained to the Ministry of Word and Sacrament but really I would never have gotten to this point without all of you ministering to me. I have learned many things about ministry from all of you, ordained, rostered and lay alike.

Pastor Strege you have indirectly taught me about stewardship and the importance of biblical study through the many adult forums and sermons that my parents heard but yet I was too young to listen to. I also learned from you the importance of a well timed fist pound on the pulpit. I believe one of the reasons why I was so comfortable in worship and the church was because of how welcomed I felt by Pastor Lohmen during children sermons. I have so many memories of running around Atonement and Good Shepherd whether with paper leaves on Palm Sunday, preparing for a Christmas Children’s Pageant or army crawling under the pews while playing underground church. Anyone who knows the good hiding places in the church must truly be welcomed.

That sense of being both welcomed and part of the church while still a youth was continued by Kirsten, Pastor Tom and both Pastor Pauls. I always felt like I was a vital part of the congregation and not a second class citizen that so many teenagers often feel. Due to encouragement from Kathy, Deacon Doug and Judy, I took on roles in the church sometimes considered only appropriate for adults, including teaching Sunday school to some of the youngest members of Immanuel and serving on multiple mission trips. There was hardly ever a time when I came to Immanuel and did not receive many hugs. I also learned from Pastor Tom how traumatizing it can be for a group of teenagers to discuss the Sixth Commandment with their pastor.

While in college, I was challenged theologically and spiritually by many conversations with Rachel and Pastor Don at University Lutheran and Pastor Cheryl via quite a few email conversations. University Lutheran became a haven in the midst of stressful work and class schedules and yet it was because of Don’s encouragement that I even considered attending seminary. It was during this time that I learned how to keep a service short but meaningful and from Cheryl, how to discretely fish a spider out of the communion wine on Easter Sunday.

During a time of transition, post-college, pre-seminary, Peace became the first church in which I was truly an adult member. From Pastor Rick I learned how to speak openly and honestly about personal situation with the congregation while still keeping your private life private. Pastor Maribeth has taught me so much about being a female pastor, balancing both career and family. And as the place where Bob and I were married, Peace will always hold a special place in both of our hearts.

During my time at seminary, UniLu opened my eyes to the joys and pleasures of ministry in the inner city; an idea this suburban girl never contemplated before. While Pastor Harte and Fred cautioned me of some of the trials of working in an inner-city parish, the joy of serving at Feast Incarnate and how natural it became to have a homeless person come in during worship are treasured by me. I had never before worshiped in such a diverse community, black, white, gay, straight, transgender, UniLu is where I saw all of God’s people gathered together to worship.

Over internship and beyond, St John’s became my church home. Through challenges in adjusting communion practices and corralling outspoken confirmation student, I became a church leader, not someone who sat in the pews. I learned so much from Linda about planning music in worship and the excitement, and commitment of Kate to having kids involved in all aspects of the church is contagious. From John I learned the importance of being connected to the greater church at the synod, national and international levels. From Clair, Jack and Rosger Borass, I learned how pastors are still pastoral even when retired or in special calls. The two years I spent at St. John’s gave me some of my more trying worship experiences but also many of the most uplifting, soul-enriching experiences as a ministry leader. I also learned the importance of a really good coffee hour.

Post seminary brought another time of transition and Bob and I found Bethesda not as a seminarian, pastor or future seminarian, but as someone who got to sit in the pew each week and maybe help assist in worship on occasion. During this experience I cannot begin to tell you the number of things I learned about being a perspective member and integrating into a congregation. And of course from Pastor Merkle I learned how wonderful a good talk in the pastor’s office can be.

These are just a handful of the many things I have learned from all my churches and “pastors,” I would not have enough space to write them all. Nor will I ever be able to properly thank you and repay you for all you have done for me. Instead I hope and pray that I will be able to pass these lessons on to others in the church and community where I have been called to serve and in the churches and communities that I will be called to in the future.

I also know that many of you will not be able to attend my ordination due to distance but please realize that you will be there in spirit for it is because of the Holy Spirit working through you that I will soon be a called and ordained minister of the church of Christ.

Thank you and may God continue to bless you in your ministries,


Monday, September 28, 2009

Chop, Chop...Splish, Splash

A sermon based on Mark 9:38-50 and James 5: 13-20

So somewhere in all the unpacking I believe I have an axe. Does anyone want to borrow it so they can cut off their hand or foot or eye? I’m sure we can all think of moments where our hand or foot or eye has caused us to sin, caused us to stumbling in our faith. Chop, Chop – who wants to be the first volunteer?

Our hands have caused many of us to steal, to hit, to punch, to write inappropriate things about others, to make rude gestures at passing drivers. For these things alone we may not have many hands left in room. And for the few of us who still would have a hand left we must remember that our hands have caused us to sin by the things they have not done. In the Order of Confession and Forgiveness this morning, we confess that “We have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done and by what we have left undone.” All of us have at some point not offered a helping hand when we could have, when we should have. All of us have not given our time or money to those in need. We have no hands left. Chop, Chop. It is better to remove our hands than to continue to sin.

And our feet have caused us to kick, to trip, to jump away, to dance inappropriately, to walk away, to turn around and ignore the problem. We have walked away from those in need, we have walked into situations that we know will be filled with temptation to sin. We have turned around ignoring those need, ignoring what we have been called to do. Chop, Chop. It is better to remove our feet than to continue to sin.

And our eyes have caused us to stare, to ogle, to lust after, to condemn. We have given people looks of disgust and disgrace, not love and grace. We have seen things we know we shouldn’t see, things that cause us to sin or promote sin in others: movies filled with violence, sexually inappropriate pictures and videos, books and magazines filled with graphic descriptions, lies, and gossip. Chop, Chop. It is better to remove our eyes than to continue to sin.

So no we are handless, feet-lees, eye-less people. But what about our other body parts. We can still speak wrongly against others, or say inappropriate words…we better chop off our tongues. Our sexual organs can cause us to lust after others as well as tempt and seduce others…we better become eunuchs and have mastectomies. Our brains can cause us to have sinful thoughts, to think bad about someone, to wish evil upon others, to be greedy or envious…I guess we should all add lobotomies to the list. And the list can go on and on, our stomach can cause gluttony, chop, chop! Our face can cause pride in our beauty, chop, chop! Our whole bodies can be slothful, chop, chop!….and our bodies will become less and less, chop, chop!

Until what would be left of us? Nothing, for eventually if we remove all the body parts that cause us to sin we will end up dead. It is better for us to be dead and full of repentance than to go to hell a full body.

So then why are we still walking? Why do we still have our hands? Why are we still able to see and hear and think and feel and live our lives? Why are we all not dead?

We are all not dead because of Jesus. We are all not dead because Jesus died for us. Jesus saved us from hell. Jesus saved us from chopping off our hands, and feet and eyes etc. We have been saved from sin and death through Christ’s death. We have been saved from sin and death because we have already died.

We have drowned in the waters of baptism. It was not a chop, chop, but a splish, splash that saved us from the eternal fires of hell. We have had our sins washed clean away. Our hands, our feet, our eyes, and every other part of our bodies are no longer just ours but they are also God’s. With our hand, our feet, our eyes and the rest of our bodies we do God’s work. It is God’s work and our hands.

We have been called to do God’s work through our bodies. We have been called to pray for those who suffer, sing with those who are full of joy, anoint the sick, confess our sins to one another, and help keep each other from stumbling. We have been called to make disciples of all nations, teaching and baptizing them in the name of the Lord. We have been called to tell others about the splish, splash that saves us, not the chop, chop.

And just as we are called to do these things for others, we too have been given a community to support us. A community who prays for us, who sings with us, who anoints us and confesses to us. We are given a community to help keep us from stumbling and who are able to help pick us up when we have stumbled. We are given this community, the community of Bethlehem and the community of all believers, who will give us a shoulder to lean on, a helping hand, a listening ear, and a foot to stand on, just as we support others. We have been given these people for it is our faith that saves us not our works. It is the splish, splash, not the chop, chop.

For we are not in this alone. We are not asked to try and navigate this life, to avoid sin and temptation, to avoid the chopping block, without others to help guide us. But most importantly we have been given Jesus, who has navigated the way, who supports us when we stumble, who has already died for us so that we do not have to. We have been given Jesus to carry our burdens to, to share the troubles of this world when they become too great. We have been given Christ Jesus who died for us so that we do not have to. We have been given Jesus who saved us with the splish, splash of the waters of baptism and that is truly the good news.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Oridination Day!

It was a very busy weekend and I think I've just gotten around to processing everything.

Friday morning my parents, best friend (Jenny) and godson (Christian) arrived at the airport and a good family friend, my "uncle" Kent and his partner arrived via car by early afternoon. We spent part of the afternoon touring the church and our soon to be new home, and walking around Westport. On Saturday we went up to New Haven to let Bob show off Yale and we went to the Peabody Museum. Both evening Ellen (who's house almost all of us were staying at) made a wonderful dinner for everyone.

But Sunday was the BIG DAY! The day everyone came up for. That morning we all got to church by 8:30ish for choir practice and Bible study. We then had worship, and coffee hour (thanks Judy). We then returned to Ellen and Gerald's for a bit of lunch and rest and then the real fun began.

I drove out to the ordination church (St. Paul's in Torrington) with Bob, Jenny and Christian. And probably had one of the most memorable experiences of the day in the car. We had Jenny's MP3 player hooked up to the stereo and about a mile from St. Paul's Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody came on. We then proceeded to sit in the car, parked in the parking lot, singing along with all the head and hand gestures. What an inappropriate, but fun way, to begin the afternoon.

I then headed inside, met the people in charge, did the pre-worship huddle and got ready for worship.

As all the pastors and others were gathered together in the narthex ready to process in during the opening hymn, I got something stuck in my throat. I then proceed to cough and was unable to sing throughout the opening hymn, the hymn of praise, the readings (including the chanted psalm) and part of the sermon. Luckily, thankfully, whatever was bugging me disappeared by the hymn of the day when myself, Nancy and Lauren (the other two women being ordained) came forward for the Ordination rite.

The actual ordination rite was a blur of prayer, kneeling, calm and nervousness all at once. But at the end during the acclamation I looked over at Nancy and we both had huge smiles on our faces.

Communion was a blessing. I served people the bread and my dad served wine. I was amazed with how many people came. Members of Bethlehem and Bethesda (the church Bob and I attended last year), friends from my internship congregation, bible study friends, seminary folks and family. The majority of people I was able to serve communion to by name.

Afterward the worship service, the narthex was filled with pictures, hugs, smiles and well wishes. I didn't even make it to the reception until most of the non-dessert food was eaten.

It was such a blessing and wonderful day.

One more comment about my stole. I by far had the fanciest stole out of the three of us being ordained. My dad designed and embroidered the stole and my mom assembled it. It says "Rejoice!" in Swahili, Japanese, Maori, Tagalua (Philippines), Swedish, Hebrew, Arabic, German, Ojibwe, Spanish, Greek and Chinese on the left side, Rejoice in English on the right and has Luther's Rose on the yoke. It is absolutely gorgeous and I'm so blessed and loved to have parents to make me a stole.

With my sponsor, Ned Acclamation
Bob and I afterwards (I'm holding a gift of olive oil from the Holy Land)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Who is your parent's favorite child?

This sermon is based on the Mark 9:30-37

I think it is safe to say that I am my parents’ favorite. I am the favorite because I was the smart one growing up and my parents never had to worry about how I was doing in school or if I was getting into trouble. Plus as the youngest I was the one who was always babied and given many opportunities my siblings never were. And I am able to say that I am their favorite not just because my parents are here today visiting for my ordination but more importantly I feel it is safe to say this because my siblings are NOT here.

For if I said this with my siblings present, Melissa, my sister and the oldest, might say that yeah I was always the smart one growing up, but she is the oldest and therefore their first child and she is the only one that has given them a grandchild so therefore she must be the favorite. And my brother, Bill, the middle child, might argue that he is the favorite since he is the only boy, also has completely kept the family name and not done some crazy hyphenated thing to distort the it. Plus he also lives the closest to my parents and therefore sees them the most, hence why he is the favorite.

Anyone with siblings have at times wondered who was their parents’ favorite and often times it even turns into an argument. And sometimes that argument isn’t about who is the favorite, as much as parents try to hide their preferences or even do not really have favorites, children always perceive that there is a favorite child. Therefore the argument sometimes is not about who is the favorite child but why one should be the preferred child.

Siblings bicker and quarrel. They bicker and quarrel over who is the favorite, who has to do what chores and who always causing the trouble which gets everyone else into trouble. We do this not only to compete for attention from our parents but also to prove to ourselves what we are worth. We are trying to prove our own self-worth by measuring it against the people who are closest to us.

And sometimes we become so focus on competing against each other that we loose sight of the bigger picture. We loose sight of the fact that we are blessed to have parents who love us enough to fight over, or that we have the gifts and talents available to us to make us able to compete, regardless if those gifts and talents are our intelligence, athletic, mechanical or artistic abilities, personality or other traits that we have inherited from our parents. We loose sight of how immensely loved we are already and instead try to become even more loved. We become like the disciples.

We become like the disciples, who right after Jesus tells them that he is going to be betrayed, killed and then rise again from the dead, are too scared to admit that they do not understand what Jesus means. So instead of raising their hand and asking a question, instead of possibly making a fool of themselves in front of their friends, instead of admitting that they do not get it, they decide instead to focus on human things. They begin to argue about who is the greatest. Only the disciples are not just arguing about who is Jesus’ favorite disciples, who is his best friend, and the one who he loves the most, instead the argument has a deeper meaning. They are also arguing about who will take over for Jesus once he dies.

Apparently they get something that Jesus had to say about his death and resurrection. They understand that he is going to die some day, but probably not anytime soon, probably not for awhile. But they argue just the same. They argue about who is the favorite, who is the one who has been blessed the most by God, who is the greatest and who will take over for Jesus. They want to ignore the negative prediction of Jesus’ death and instead focus on what Jesus’ death will mean for them personally. They discuss and argue over who will benefit and who will be hindered, who will receive greater glory and name recognition and who will fade to the background. They are so focused on these things, on what it means for them, that the disciples are not able to understand what Jesus’ death and resurrection means for Jesus and his ministry.

But Jesus, like most loving parents, did not yell at them, and condemn them for arguing amongst themselves. Instead, he takes the opportunity as a teaching moment, a moment to point out what it truly means to be great. To truly be great, to truly be a leader in the way Jesus wants us to be, means to be a servant to all people even the least among us, even the ones considered the most disposable in our society.

For Jesus uses a child as an example of who the disciples should serve and who should be welcomed in Christ’s name. But in order to truly understand Jesus’ example, you first, have to understand the status that children had in Jesus’ time. Children were not honored and coddled like they are today. Nobody bought swings and cribs and bottles and bags and outfits that total thousands of dollars like they do today. No children were more like disposable commodities. There was no guarantee that they would live to adulthood, more often than not they died before they reached the age of 13.

So therefore children were not consider something that should be seriously invested into. They were not considered an investment because of the knowledge that most of the time children did not live long enough to be considered useful.

But it is by welcoming this little child, by being a servant to the least in this world, that we have been welcomed by Christ. It is not glory, greatness, being our parents’ or God’s favorite that we should strive for but servant-hood. For as Christ predicted his death, he also predicted his resurrection. He predicted the glory that would come through his servant-hood to all of humankind. For Christ died for us. We have been welcomed by Christ into a life like his and into a death like his. And it through us serving other, through welcoming the little ones in our society, the children, the homeless, the handicapped, the sick, the illiterate, the immigrants, and the prisoners, it is by welcoming these people in Christ name that God is glorified. It is only when Christ is glorified that we are great.

It is because of and through Christ’s example that we are able to serve and love these people and others in our world. It is only because of Christ that we can become great, because it is Christ who first came to serve us, it is Christ who came to die for us. It is Christ who came and saved us from our sins and it is Christ who overcame death and the devil. It is Christ who rose again from the grave. It is Christ who became our Heavenly Father. It is Christ who has marked us with the cross of Christ. And it is Christ who has claimed us as his children. For we are all Christ’s favorite.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A Day in Worcester

Today I went up to the synod office in Worcester, Mass (pronounced Woo-ster for those non-New England folks). There was an orientation meeting for pastors and rooster leaders who are new to the synod. There was about 13 of us, most of whom were ordained/commissioned/consecrated in May or will be this weekend.

I was able to hear a little bit more about New England Synod, both its history and its current ministry, as well as meet a few of the many leaders with in the synod. We were able to fellowship over lunch as well as have conversation about how the New England Synod can and should continue in ministry, especially after the actions of churchwide assembly in August.

Overall it was a good day, I just wish that it wasn't a two and a half hour drive one way. I left at 6:30 this morning in order to make sure that I would make it there by 9:30. That also meant that I woke up at 5:45 this morning - first time I woke up before sunrise in months. So in all I spent about 5 hours driving and 5 and a half hours there.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Living like a jade plant

This sermon has a bit of a gap in it in written form because I did some conversation with the congregation during the middle of the sermon. The text for this sermon is Mark 8:27-38

If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.

What a cryptic comment from Jesus. In fact all of the gospels and most of the Bible is filled with these cryptic comments, these phrases that make step back and listen to the phrase again, and for some of us we maybe even have to get out a flow chart out to know the difference between group A and group B. These mysterious, puzzling sentences make us scratch our heads and do a listening double take. They are cryptic; however in order to sound more educated, theologians and pastors like to use the terms “juxtaposition” and “paradox:” a side by side comparison or seemingly self-contradictory statement.

If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.

If we try to save our life, we will inevitably loose it, and if we let go of our life, we will live on. This seems preposterous. This seems unreal, it seems absurd. We are humans we have that fight or flight response to save our lives by either fighting in the face of danger, or running away from danger, not to just give up and let go.

It is hard for us to deny ourselves, especially in our society, especially in Fairfield County, where there is constantly pressure from ads, from family, from friends, from co-workers, from strangers, to indulge ourselves, to treat ourselves, whether to that bit of chocolate, the trip to the spa, the more expensive meal, the bottle of wine, or even the new luxury SUV. We want to indulge ourselves, to treat ourselves, to pamper our body and mind including all of our senses.

And what does it mean to take up our cross? Haven’t we taken up our cross? I mean how many of us wear one around our neck? Aren’t we already following Jesus? We come to church on Sunday, we say we are Christian, we have been baptized, had our children baptized. Aren’t they all signs of taking up a cross and following Jesus?

Yes I would say these two verses qualify as cryptic, or juxtaposition or paradox or whatever you want to call them.

Maybe we need to look at something outside of human nature in order to understand.

How many of you decorated a pot this morning? Could you bring them forward?

Have you been wondering what the pot is for?

So it is now September and I have started to see some tree start to turn colors. What happens with a leaf once it turns colors?

Well that is not true for all plants. Some plants when their leaves fall off they don’t die but bring about new life. That is true for a Jade plant. If you cut off a leaf before it dies and let it rest on the ground it will become a new plant. All you need is one leaf! Allow it to rest on the ground, maybe slightly buried, and only water a little bit for a few weeks until it starts to look like a plant and not just a leaf. In a few months, with plenty of sunlight, and regular watering, it will be a nice big plant. It becomes new life. The leaf will have given up its life as a leaf in order to bring new life as an entire plant, it becomes the foundation for a whole new plant.

So maybe this is an example of what Jesus meant by saying “For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.”

We can be like a leaf from de-cid-u-ous tree, an ash, oak or maple. Holding on for life, becoming beautiful and vibrant, showing off for all the world our colors, from the bring greens in the spring to the red, yellows and oranges of the fall. But when our life is up we will die returning to the ground.

Or we can be like a leaf from a Jade plant. Not too extraordinary, humble by most measures of leafiness, but by giving up its life, it becomes new, becomes a foundation for others.

Through God’s help we are like a jade plant. Through God’s help we are able to give up our life, in the form of time in service to the community and money in gifts to organizations that do God’s work in the world. By living on a tighter budget so that others might eat, or giving up an hour of our week so that others may hear God’s word, we are giving up our lives and as a result allowing others to live. With God’s help, we are constantly giving up our lives. For when we give up our life and see how others are living, it becomes easier to give up even more of our life.

The key though is not just to donate time and money out of a sense of obligation but to actually see how your gifts, how the gifts of God’s people, are helping others in this world live. Your gift of food to Redding Social Services allows people in our own community to have food on the table who might not have it or the gift of toiletries you have collected while on vacation allows people to better their personal hygiene which betters their health. Your gift of time teaching Sunday School or volunteering at your child’s school allows children to grow in their education and their faith, though sometimes it takes years to see those results. But now the question is what more can you do?

How else can you give up your life? How else can you deny yourself? How else can you take up your cross and follow Jesus? Have you truly denied yourself? Have you taken up the cross in all aspects of your life or are you still hiding the cross when at work or with friends? We have been called by name to follow Christ Jesus. We have all been given the gift of eternal life. Our lives have been saved. And it is because we have been saved, because we have been given eternal life, because Jesus Christ died on the cross for us that we are able to deny ourselves, take up the cross and follow Christ.

It is because of Christ that we are called by name. It is because of Christ that we are able to follow and be changed. It is because of Christ that we are able to let God’s love show through us. It is because of Christ that we are able to let God’s name be known to others. And it is because of Christ that we are able to live.

It's Been Awhile

I think Labor Day threw my schedule off, and on top of that I had a cold all week, so I didn't end up posting my sermon from last week. Oh well. I will post today's sermon shortly.

Today was Rally Sunday. We had a bagel breakfast in the community room. There was pots for the kids and whoever else wanted to decorate and fill with soil. During the sermon I talked about jade plants growing from a single leaf and each person got a jade leaf for the pot that they decorated. Overall it was a good low key Rally Day.

In other updates: The house looking more and more like a house everyday. All the rooms and trim have been painted. Only a few doors and two closets still need paint. Bob and I put together the kitchen cabinets for 3 hours yesterday and today I went back and finished the remaining cabinets. This week the agenda includes: The hardwood floors will be redone on Monday. Carpet will be installed upstairs on Tuesday. Cabinets will be installed in the kitchen and the upstairs bathroom should be finished up. Hopefully almost everything will be done by the end of the week.

I'm also nearing closer to the completion of my needlepoint project. I've been working on this picture of Glacier National Park All I have left is about half the mountain and the sky. So hopefully within a few weeks it will be ready to frame and hang up in our new home.

This week I'm gearing up to go to Mass on Tuesday to have a welcome to the synod meeting at the synod office, my family, one of my best friends and godson are flying in on Friday. And Sunday is my ordination.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


Bob and I were on vacation this last week. We went to Minnesota and Wisconsin to visit family and friends and to go to the Minnesota State Fair.

We arrived Monday afternoon and went pretty much straight to the hospital to see my sister and meet our new nephew, Jayden, who was born while we were in the plane. I didn't get to see him that long since the nurse took him for a check up. I don't have picture right now (forgot camera, phone doesn't have a great signal, family hasn't sent me any, etc) so I'll post some later.

On Thursday we went to the State Fair and ate our way through it. I ate, and this is just what I can remember, caramel apple with ice cream, taffy, corn on the cob, swirl cut potatoes, honey sticks, falafels & stuff grape leaves, and Sweet Martha's Cookies (always a must eat). Among the many things, animals and people we saw was our 4 year old goddaughter get her hair done in a "FairDo"

According to Kayla it was pink with blue stars "ALL OVER!!! and SPARKLY!!""

We also had my brother's birthday party on Friday night, a family picture taken with Bob's side of the family and a Conlin family gathering.

Other highlights of the week was lots of time spent with family and friends. Bob's highlight was probably steam cleaning the stairs at my brother's house to help get the place cleaned up for my brother's birthday party....okay that probably wasn't a highlight. But one of my real highlights was worshiping at the church I attended while in college and seeing many people I have not seen in at least 5 years. It was great to see how much the church had changed since I graduated but yet has also stayed the same.

But now it is back to work, but not yet home...we are still drifting. But it is great to be staying at parishioners with Daisy the dog. And soon we will be able to move in to the parsonage.