It was two minutes into the second service of the day, and I stood up from the front pew to make my way to the space between the Altar and the Table. As I prepared to lead the congregation in the words of the confession and forgiveness, I looked out at the people singing,
“Then hear, O gracious Savior, accept the love we bring,
that we who know your favor may serve you as our King;
and whether our tomorrows be filled with good or ill,
we’ll triumph through our sorrows and rise to bless you still;
to marvel at your beauty and glory in your ways,
and make a joyful duty our sacrifice of praise.”
It was at that moment, about when the congregation sang, “we’ll triumph through our sorrows and rise to bless you still,” that I felt the Holy Spirit move. Now, hold on, you’re thinking, when did Beth become a charismatic? I thought she was Lutheran. Lutherans don’t talk about the “Holy Spirit moving.” It’s okay, you can relax. I am still Lutheran. Martin Luther often talked about the Holy Spirit being the one who gives spiritual gifts and calls Christians into using those gifts in the world.
So, how did I feel the Spirit move?
I looked at the congregation, and I heard them sing, and I felt the voice of God affirming me, as I prepared to declare the forgiveness of all their sins. My vocation, my call, my identity as a leader of God’s people, as a woman called to become a pastor. I knew then, again, what I have known before: that I am exactly where God is calling me to be. That I belong in the space between the Altar and the Table, where forgiveness is declared, where prayers are raised, where the Lord’s Supper is shared among the Lord’s people.
If I learn nothing else during my year as “Vicar Beth,” it will be enough if I learn to listen to the Spirit calling me.