I am reading a small book- Psalms Playlist – a Seedbed.com published book that I purchased recently when Dr. Sandra Richter was here for our Renewal Conference at Lynn Haven UMC. I am delighted by the concept that J.D. Walt and Dr. Timothy Tennent of Asbury Theological Seminary and his wife Julie Tennent have worked out in setting contemporary translations of the Psalms to music!
I grew up singing Psalms arrangements in choir, many of which are no longer readily available. I have tried to find some of them to reconnect with those tunes as an adult for my private worship time.
In 2002 as I was preparing as lay director for a women’s Emmaus walk at Blue Lake, there was a tune that kept playing in my head for weeks. I had not known it before, it just came to me and I hummed it off and on. As I worked on preparation for the walk, I selected Psalm 37:3-5, using the theme of Trust. Babbie Mason’s “Trust His Heart” was a favorite song of mine at the time, too. One evening as I was driving across the Hathaway Bridge to Panama City Beach to a business meeting, all of a sudden the words to the Scripture dropped right into the tune that I had been humming for weeks and I realized God had been preparing me for a joyful experience of trusting him more and more!
That was the same year that the Lord began calling me into full time vocational ministry of Christian education and eventually counseling to women and families in crisis. I began my Christian education certification through the UMC shortly thereafter. In 2006, I left a full time pharmaceutical sales career and started graduate school in counseling. In 2008 I accepted a position managing a women’s substance abuse recovery program, entered candidacy for ordination as a deacon and started classes at Asbury. I was commissioned in 2012 as a provisional deacon. In 2014, I started a new program, Titus 2 Partnership, a 501c3 non-profit Christian community residential program for women in recovery. Since 2014, the journey toward ordination has been very difficult. Two years in a row now I have been discontinued as a provisional by the AWFUMC Board of ministry. Last year I appealed and secured the right to continue pursuit of ordination. This year, it is clear I’ll never be accepted, so I’m not appealing.
It appears to be mostly a matter of members of the Board do not feel they can trust me because I have been critical of the ordination interview process, poor communication by the Board with candidates, and of some individuals whose behavior had seemed to me and others to be intended to screen people out of ministry instead of invite them in.
When the Board asked me this year in the interview if they could trust me….my response was that none of us is completely trustworthy. I told them that trust is an important issue for me and the women with whom I work. I also reminded them that human beings will always have the capacity to disappoint or hurt one another. The heart, we know, is deceitful! It’s part of the human condition. And furthermore, I can find no scripture anywhere that tells me we are to trust people or institutions . We are to put our trust in God. We are to love and forgive one another! I told them that is what I have sought to do, love and forgive and put the past in the past. Can they trust me? As much, I suppose, as any one of us can trust one another. It was my trust in the Board and the process that led me to the ordination interview process naïve and expecting the best of people. As I experienced the interview process in 2014 and after, that trust didn’t seem to be warranted. The appeal process last year and the things I discovered in the file as I prepared gave me additional reasons to doubt that I was being dealt with in a trustworthy manner. There was a clear stated expectation in the interview this year that I owed the Board an apology…..for winning an appeal? For standing up for myself and others like me? I had already apologized to the individuals I had felt most hurt by and whom I had been critical of. I told the interview committee that and said if others felt that I owed them an apology I would be happy to hear what I had done to harm any one of them and would gladly apologize.
Psalm 37 has become one of my favorite Psalms of strength and peace. I still sing these verses often, as this is one of my “life” scriptures! These three verses are scored below with chords and melody. Thanks to an accompanist at Lynn Haven UMC who helped me with this in 2002
God does indeed put a new song in one’s heart and allow us to sing it in the midst of difficult pathways.