I walked through the church door at 11:30 a.m., the announced time for the monthly ministers meeting. Tin plates of pork, chicken, and brisket lay next to several bags of buns, plastic canisters of potato salad and beans. I was ready to eat, but I was the only one there. The Pastor of the host church tapped me on the shoulder. He saw me enter the building. We traded a few comments about being on time. “I have an obsession about it,” I said. He acknowledged the same obsession. Apparently, an obsession the rest of the ministers did not share.
I poured some tea and sat down to wait. While I waited, I wondered if the shepherds were leading the sheep or the sheep leading the shepherds. Most church services I’ve been in begin with a handful of people. The sanctuary gradually fills until everyone is in their usual place, not unlike the ministers meeting that day. After several ministers arrived, we were encouraged to eat and the conversation flowed freely.
I enjoy listening to the pastors’ talk. In spite of the hardships they endure, I’ve never heard them complain. They express their fears and concerns. They request prayer, but they don’t complain. Instead, they affirm their belief that the work is God’s, and he will make a way for them to accomplish their assigned task.
The subject of faithfulness and timing arose. One pastor, who lost his church and most of his congregation after Katrina spoke with wisdom. “You have to be faithful,” he said. “Sometimes God puts you in a place for a specific time, and you just have to wait. Moses waited forty years until God’s time came for him to fulfill his ministry.”
As the pastor spoke, my thoughts drifted to my own frustrations. I’ve often wondered why I could never leave New Orleans. I tried. On one occasion, God changed my plans without asking me. God does lots of things without asking me. I gave myself a failing grade on the faithfulness test. I had given up seeing the fulfillment of the things God spoke to me shortly after I became a Christian but so did Moses. His zeal to fulfill his ministry had turned into apathy by the time God appeared in a burning bush. “Send someone else,” Moses pleaded to no avail.
I snapped out of my daydream in time to hear a financial appeal for a woman pastor in Mississippi. Times have changed . . . at least in my corner of the Christian world. Women pastors are a rare breed and still disdained by many. It was comforting to hear our presbyter seeking help for her. I left the meeting hopeful that discrimination against women in the church will one day come to an end.