Working without an office

Because we’ve been in transition between buildings for over a year, it’s been a long time since I’ve had an office to work in. When New Fellowship Church needed my office to expand their use of the building, I moved into a corner of the modular building, then later I moved into our secretary’s office, perching on a stool at the treasurer’s desk. Now that we have moved out of our old location, neither Linda, our secretary, nor I have an office.

It’s not that I need an office all that much. Visits can be done without an office, and I can do my sermon preparation and other writing anywhere. With my church laptop computer, I can do my administrative work from home or Starbuck’s or anywhere else. My cell phone is always with me, so I’m not tethered to an office phone.

The truth is, however, that an office allows you to be more productive. Probably the hardest thing is not being in daily contact with Linda. We collaborate constantly, sharing information and working together to produce the bulletin, the newsletter, scheduling the building and church events, sharing news about the latest needs and demands of parish life. Although she’s available instantly on her cell phone, it’s just not the same when we’re not in the office together.

And I find that being office-less is disorienting. An office is a home base, a place where I can collect my thoughts and put things together for the day coming up. An office provides stability and security, like a fortress or a command post. Without it, I feel homeless and unsure of my surroundings. In addition, an office provides a place for my books and my papers. When I need something, I can put my hand on it. Without an office, I’m living out of boxes and continually searching for resources I rely on.

I’ll certainly be glad when my exile ends, and I’m back in my office. One thing’s for sure: when things are back to normal, I’ll have a new appreciation for my office surroundings.

Frustration

The definition of frustration is “The feeling of being upset or annoyed, especially because of inability to change or achieve something.”

That pretty much sums up my feelings these days. We’ve been waiting for weeks and months for our new building to be finished, but it still hasn’t happened. The reasons are complex and include contractor delays, problems obtaining materials, and the difficulty of scheduling inspections from the County and passing those inspections. The latest delay is due to the County’s insistence that we complete the wood fence that acts as a visual barrier for our neighbors.

The inability to do anything to change the situation is quite frustrating. I thought we would be in the building weeks ago, yet we’re still waiting for the occupancy permit. I don’t even have an office (I’m typing this in my temporary “office” at Starbucks). The building is completely ready for occupancy but we can’t occupy it.

I find that it’s very difficult to be productive without an office. Normally, the office is the place where I have my base of operations including a computer with internet, a phone, a printer, and collaboration with our secretary. Without the stability the office provides, I’m like a wandering nomad. Of course, many things do not depend on the office, such as visits, writing and planning, and I can do them without an office, but the office is the base.

I’m grateful that our parishioners have been quite resilient and flexible. We had to worship outdoors the last two Sundays, and no one complained (having perfect weather helped a lot). But we can’t keep that up forever. We really need to be in the building. So I continue to wait, fussing and stewing over the completion of the fence, and the arrival of the inspectors who will finally sign off on our occupancy.

God, give me patience.

Another delay

I dreaded sending the email to our parishioners last week that announced that we would not be able to have our first service at the new building on Easter Day.

We have had so many postponements in moving to our new building that yet another one seemed like just too much. Many people have set their schedules based on our plans to move, and here I was, asking them to reschedule once more. And of course it’s disappointing not to be able to celebrate Easter in our new building.

But facts are facts, and our contractor simply isn’t able to have the building ready for us. The main delays have to do with inspections by the State and the County for the septic system, the fire sprinkler system, and the landscaping.

Fortunately our members have been quite resilient, and everyone has adjusted to the new schedule. When the times comes, we’ll have our first service, and it will be wonderful.

The anticipation of moving into our new building

It’s looking more and more sure that we’ll have our first worship service in our new building on Easter Eve, when we celebrate the Great Vigil of Easter. The next morning, on Easter Day, we’ll celebrate the resurrection of Christ at our regular 8:00 and 10:00 Eucharists for the first time.

After the many delays and disappointments of the past year, I feel almost giddy that we’re so close. The electricians are finishing up the last details; the tile, vinyl, and carpet are almost complete; the parking lot has been paved; and the landscaping has been scheduled. There are many finishing details that remain, but the contractor is hard at work and every day there are many workmen on the job.

Our transition team has met to plan the move from our old building to our new building. There will be many pickup truck loads to transport the mile and a half down Old Frontier Road, and it will be a challenge as we try to decide where to place everything. We’ll probably be living out of boxes for awhile, just like homeowners during a house move.

But thinking of our first service and how wonderful it will be is almost overwhelming. I’m sure we’ll all be thrilled to see the chairs in the nave, find our place, and come to the altar rail for the first time. We’ll hear how the organ sounds for the first time, and we’ll get a feel for the light as it comes though the steeple windows and fills the room. We’ll sense the presence of the congregation as we see our friends around us in a new setting.

I’m sure it will take some time to get used to. At first everything will seem so new and strange. But over time we’ll find our places and smooth out all the wrinkles, and we’ll be at home in our new church.

Bishop’s Visitation January 13, 2109

Well, I have to say we had a wonderful day yesterday when our bishop, the Rt. Rev. Greg Rickel, visited us for his once-every-three year visitation.

We had a full church, the confirmation of three fine young people, and a splendid sermon by our bishop. Bishop Greg brought his large and expansive personality coupled with a warm and humorous presence. After he confirmed our young people, he encouraged them to sprinkle the congregation with a fir branch, using the holy water from the font. They were a little hesitant at first, but they got into it after a bit. “Remember your baptism!” they said as they doused us with water. It was a lighthearted moment, a good way to act our the bishop’s message of the importance of our baptism.

After the service, the bishop mingled with folks during coffee hour, then we took him and our other guests from the diocese to the new building where we gave them a tour and sat for a meeting with the Bishop’s Committee. It was a fine and satisfying day.

In his sermon on baptism, Bishop Greg told this story:

A baptist preacher and an Episcopal priest were having an argument about baptism. The Baptist preacher insisted that baptism was only valid if the person was entirely immersed in water, while the Episcopal priest said that sprinkling water on the top of the head would be sufficient.

The Episcopal priest asked the preacher, “What about if a person was immersed to their knees. Would that be enough?”

The preacher said, “No, that’s not enough.”

So the priest said, “How about if the person was submerged to their waist?” “Not enough,” said the preacher. “Their neck?” asked the priest. “No, that’s not enough,” said the preacher.

“What if the person was submerged all the way except the top of their head?” he asked. “Nope, not enough,” said the preacher.

“See?” said the priest. “It’s only the water on top that really counts.”