"Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?"
We are looking ahead to the Third Sunday of Advent. In the Gospel reading, John's disciples approach Jesus and ask him the above question. While Jesus doesn't directly answer it, he points out all that he has done and tells the disciples to go back and tell John all that they are witnessing.
I always chuckle when I read that question, because it immediately makes me think of the call process, one of the most challenging responsibilities of the office of bishop. The bulk of the task falls to the Reverend Karl Biermann, Assistant to the Bishop, who painstakingly reviews pastors' profiles as well as those of the congregations. The goal is to come up with at least three candidates whose gifts for ministry match the congregation's needs. The congregation's call committee then interviews the candidates and decides whether or not to call one of the three. If the committee feels that none of the candidates are a good fit, we go back to the drawing board and provide more names for the interview process.
It is a challenge in many ways, and perhaps as much art as science. There are many factors to consider, too many to point out in this musing. But the bottom line is that we here in the office, as well as your call committees, work hard at what we do, and that often goes unrecognized by the wider community.
So for those congregations that are in the call process, I encourage you to express your appreciation to those of your fellow members who are on the call committee, and show them your patience and support. They are serving on your behalf and with the sincere intention that the person who is ultimately called will be the one who is to lead you and your congregation in ways that will deepen your faith and your love of Jesus.
Our office calendar doesn't slow down in December as much as one would think. There are still meetings, activities and preaching assignments. As you read this, I will be heading to Columbus to meet with the other Region Six Bishops to discuss several churchwide staff changes that are taking place and which will have an impact on the call process for first-call candidates.
I would also invite you to check my blog for my daily Advent devotions. I appreciate the comments I have received and welcome any discussion you may want to have around the posts.
Finally, I look forward to visiting with the good people of Grace, Wadsworth, on Saturday, December 10; Zion, Loudonville, on Sunday, December 11; and to celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe on Monday, December 12, at Iglesia Luterana La Trinidad, which worships at Zion, Canton. That service begins at 6:00 p.m.
Continued Advent Blessings!
+Bishop Abraham Allende