People install new showers, new ovens, new software. People also install other people into positions that, in my denomination, we call “permanent” although nobody is really ever permanently installed.
Just after lunch this Saturday, I will be installed for the third time in my life.
The first time, I was a single 20-something with a black lab puppy installed into a small church in a small town in upstate NY. The second time, I was a married 30-something with an 8 month old installed in a church where I would raise my family for the next couple of decades in Northern Virginia. And this third time, I’m a 50-something empty nester working with 98+ churches in Chicago.
It occurs to me that this could be my last installation. Or maybe not.
I’m just recently believing that it’s possible that – although my parents died young – maybe I won’t. Maybe I’ll live long enough to have a second career after retiring from professional ministry one day. Something involving coffee or wine or travel writing would be lovely.
So here are my questions, if you happen to be a non-clergy person reading this (which frankly would surprise me):
- Do you feel “installed” in your current job? If you happen to be a dentist or a teacher or a mechanic or a chef or whatever, is there anything about your position that makes you feel “installed”?
- Was there a ceremony to commemorate your official start?
- Did you take vows in front of your colleagues and those you serve to declare your intentions?
I didn’t think so.
Clergy are not the only ones installed in the Church. Musicians, educators, and officers are also installed in many congregations, marking our special calling and the commitment to use our gifts to God’s glory and to the benefit of others.
Imagine how cool it would be if everybody – from the person who cuts my hair to the bus driver to the bartender to the prison guard- got to be “installed” in some way, recognizing that – no matter what we do for our daily work – we have a responsibility to our community. Imagine having to state our intentions: that we promise to try to do what we do really well. How great would it be if everybody was asked to do what we do with energy, intelligence, imagination, and love?
So, I’m getting installed Saturday and hope you also have that experience sometime, at least once. It reminds us that the work we do has consequences in the world.