From the OT lesson for Monday in the week of Proper 6B (Pentecost 3, 2015)
1 Samuel 1
20 In due time Hannah conceived and bore a son. She named him Samuel, for she said, “I have asked him of the Lord.”
The story of Samuel intrigues me. Turned over to the priest Eli at a young age, dedicated in accordance with his mother’s promise to a life of service to God, he lived and ministered as a priest, a prophet, and a Judge of Israel in the same place for his entire life. I find that almost impossible to understand. I have lived more places than I can count without getting out a notepad and writing them down! ~ When I was sworn into the federal bar in the District of Nevada, I had to complete an FBI background check application which asked for all of my residence addresses up to that point. I was 32 years old at the time; I realized that at that point in my life I had lived at 35 addresses. (I believe my parents invented “flipping;” I lived in and helped them fix up so many homes that I know how to do things associated with nearly all of the building trades!) ~ It also occurred to me as I gave thought to Samuel’s life and career that in a few days I will be celebrating the 24th anniversary of my ordination to the priesthood, and that I have just celebrated my 12th anniversary as rector in my current parish. What that means is that I have spent more than half of my presbyteral ministry in a single congregation. I think that’s actually rare in today’s church. In some traditions, itineracy is the norm and clergy are moved on a regular basis. I read somewhere that the average tenure of an Episcopal priest in a congregation now is less than five years. I have to say that I think there is something to be said for longer pastorates; development of personal relationships and growth in community leadership takes time, usually more time than we give them. I’m not sure I could have been happy with a life-long, young-childhood-to-old-age placement, but I am glad to have had the privilege of stability for the past dozen years.