Local Preachers’ Meetings, that is. We have two here in our circuit… one just for the trainees, mentors and tutors, and then one for everyone all together.. and of course I have to go to both.
It was the full one today. Interesting. (Hmmm.. was that the best word to use for it?). I felt a little nervous, a little like an interloper who shouldn’t really have been there. I think that may be part of the problem of working independently rather than in a training group as it felt as though I’d sneaked in uninvited, and when it came to the voting I felt awful as I didn’t feel I had the right to vote on things such as whether one of the other trainees should be recognised as having completed their training and being ready to go on full plan, but then it felt bad to sit with my hand down when people were asked if they approved of that decision! Still, they made me feel quite at home in one way – when I arrived I was asked if I’d play the piano for the devotions at the beginning!
And a classic error – the meeting was being led by a stand-in while our superintendant minister was away on sabattical. He looked at his agenda at the very start of the meeting and said “I believe Smudgie is going to do the welcome” and looked straight at me, expectantly.
“Er… erm…. I don’t think she is,” I replied, looking frantically at my mentor for support.
“Well, it says here – ‘ Welcome: Smudgie ‘ as the first item on the agenda.”
Instant understanding: “I think you’ll find that means that you’re supposed to welcome me, seeing as it’s my first ever local preachers’ meeting” !!!
The training meeting was actually last week. Talk about intimidating! Even though everyone knew everyone else and it was all very friendly, I’m not looking forward to this aspect of the training at all as it took the form of reports on everyone’s progress and actual reports of the services taken, strengths and weaknesses and areas for improvement. Boring and embarrassing, dare I say it. And I got a bit frustrated because there’s some confusion over my training files. I said that I’d been sent the wrong ones, everyone’s insisting that I haven’t. It’s like having a conversation with my father! I mean, I ought to know what files are actually sitting on my desk, oughtn’t I, and they are NOT THE RIGHT ONES!
Best part of the evening, but still somewhat daunting to think that this is still to come… two of my colleagues were being given their final interview, where they have to discuss one of John Wesley’s sermons! They have to know it inside out – although apparently they were treated more kindly than most and simply led through a discussion of the content rather than quizzed in nit-picking detail as often happens. I had expecting this part to be rather offputting, but instead I have to say I was entranced. I’ve never read any of Wesley’s sermons, but I came away longing to read the four that are identified as the best and most pertinent. This man’s words, although written in archaic language of course, have such resonance today and the two people who were talking about them were obviously fired with enthusiasm for his ideas. Since last Thursday I’ve even found myself referring to his words of wisdom.
But I have a theory. God may or may not have called me to do this training in order for me to preach… but he’s definitely called me in order to teach me patience and tolerance!