My friends and I were sitting around a table full of pizza in Fargo. We had just finished a Color Run, and were re-energizing for the rest of the day. It was mid-August, and I had known about my new call and relocation for about three weeks.
“Do you have to preach your first Sunday there?” one of them asked.
My eyes widened. “I don’t know,” I said. “I have no idea what I would even talk about.”
“You could talk about unpacking!” another friend chimed in. “The things you need right away, what you leave until later. Some things you don’t even really pack up.”
My friends are brilliant. I told them I was stealing that idea.
Over the past few weeks, people have asked how I am settling into town. Most of the time my response has something to do with how many boxes are still filling up my house. Depending on how the week is going, they could be anything from everywhere to mountains to manageable little piles.
Getting to know a place--and letting that place get to know you--is exactly like unpacking. There are skills and pieces of you that are needed immediately. Handshakes, smiles, organization, listening ears and open conversations are the toothbrushes and cereal bowls of starting in a new place. There are things that will take a little longer to find their place, and things that don’t necessarily need to be used right away because whatever they would accomplish is already being done. I have a hymnal still in a box at home because there are plenty here, and it’s not really needed.
Then there are the boxes that will stay right where they are for months or years before they are considered at all. Right now is not the time to figure out where they belong.
I don’t have everything, either, because I can’t do everything. No golf clubs will be unpacked, because I don’t play golf. I also shouldn’t accompany anyone on the piano. I don’t have that skill. I am happy to let others do both of those things, though.
It sounds like I am doing all of the unpacking, but you have things packed up, too. Any time you encounter someone new, they know nothing about you or how things work in your world until they’re shown. Just like unpacking, some of it will be displayed right away. Other pieces will take some time to be revealed. There are probably things that I won’t be trusted with until much later, and some things I will never discover.
Whatever happens, it's going to be an adventure. I’m excited to see just how this ministry will develop for everyone here as we all unpack what we have and determine where everything fits into this place that is the church.