Numbers.

This Wednesday morning, like almost every Wednesday morning, I headed over to the local cafe for breakfast with other area pastors. Normally it is me and the LCMS pastor and the DCE from his church and it’s quite an odd combination. But we get along really well and have some fantastic conversations.

Occasionally we are joined by one or another pastor from town… this morning it was the Presbyterian pastor. If the ELCA Lutheran pastor comes, then I’m not the only female, but I haven’t seen her for a while.

I’m pretty routine about what I order. A cup of earl grey tea and a pancake. Sometimes a side of bacon. It depends on how much I want to clog my arteries that particular morning.

After breakfast with the lectionary group, I head back to church to study the bible with a small group of parishoners. They like to read through whole books at a time, so when I arrived last January, they were in the middle of Isaiah. They got through the prophets and decided to start at the beginning, with Genesis. We started Numbers today and I am always amazed at the repetition of so many passages in the bible. So and So’s family number forty thousand two hundred and fifty men, over the age of twenty, who were able to serve the lord. So and so’s family numbered…. you get the picture. We skipped some of the repetition this morning =)

It is so hard to imagine that the numbers describe in Numbers are possible. That over a million people would have been moving nomadically together through the wilderness. As we listened to each other describe each clan’s task in the movement and protection of the tabernacle, I got to thinking about a book I read recently, Water for Elephants. It describes the journey of a young man who joins a circus train, and I got to thinking about how the whole circus comes to town and how the big tent and everything gets unloaded and put up seemingly in a moment. And when the circus is ready to move, everything gets torn down again in the blink of an eye. It seems like as close of a paralell as anything else I can imagine for what it must have been like to travel with the tabernacle of God.

I spent the rest of my day at work finishing my candidacy continuance interview forms. In our church, you are commissioned first and then must be continued for the next two years, and then finally you can apply for ordination (complete with about 50 pages of papers and lessons and sermons). I’m grateful in the busyness of this year that I didn’t have to write all of those papers. But even getting the short questions I had to answer done seemed like a chore. So many copies to be made, so many envelopes to be addressed. I’m looking forward to my conversation with my interview team in March. There are more people on my team now, I think only two of them are the same as my previous two teams, so it’s exciting to talk with them about my ministry and where I can grow and what resources they might have for me.

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