It is hard to believe that fall is here. It is not yet time for sweaters, but I find my hand moving past the lighter shirts in my closet, down toward the longer sleeves and darker colors. My drive from Eagle River has changed too. I have to think about the school traffic and more people driving in and out of the city. Everyone is hoping for one more fishing trip, one more hike, yet another campout- trying to enjoy the vestiges of the summer and the fun that autumn can provide in the short time it’s here.
This month marks a mental change for me. For the past three years, the end of August has meant a return to Connecticut and to school. I had to think about books, class schedules, and travel plans. I was a student.
Now I’m still learning, but from you. This year is my transition from student to pastor and Gloria Dei is helping me over that bridge. Internship brings new levels of authority, involvement in decision-making, surprising ministry experiences and absorbing the nuances of the role to which I have been called.
There is a delicate balance to learning about this position. I have to learn the balance between what I studied in school and what happens when knowledge is applied, between being a leader and encouraging others to lead. I have begun to hear from you about what you like to see in a pastor regarding preaching, visitation, teaching and presence.
In the spirit of learning about my new role, I have taken a new title. According to the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, I can be called pastoral intern, intern or vicar. Though titles are not that important to me, what’s in a name is actually important. Part of internship is learning about being a pastor, but one only actually earns that title through a call to a congregation and ordination.
In the meantime, “pastoral intern” seems like too many syllables to ask you to use. That title was too big. “Intern” does not seem to clearly describe what my role is here; thus, that title is too small. “Vicar” is unusual, but can be explained in its originality. “This is our vicar, Julia. We’re helping her learn to be a pastor.” It does sound very British and it is unfamiliar to most of us, including myself. However, it is the title that best seems to fit the position. It is just right. We will all learn to use it together.
All this change does make me think with gratitude about the unchanging nature of God. No matter what kind of changes I experience, it is blessedly assuring to know God remains the same today, tomorrow and forever. May that thought comfort you as well this month, during a season of change.