Since I received the Call to serve as pastor of St. Peter Lutheran Church in Campbell Hill, Illinois, the one question that I have received most frequently is this: "Are you going to change the name of your blog?"
Louisiana is not Patmos--and I am certainly not St. John. It is neither Assyria nor Babylon--though I imagine Pat Robertson and the "God Hates Fags" people might be inclined to disagree regarding the latter. It is not even Elba--and I don't like pointy hats, anyway. Yet for the past four years and more, Louisiana has been the place of my exile from parish ministry.
What is exile? How does one become exiled? The Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines the noun "exile" as "the state or a period of forced absence from one's country or home". In my case, rather selfishly, I gave the blog its name because of my departure from parish ministry. I've told the story before. I don't need to do so again.
Now my time outside of parish ministry is coming to an end. Do I change the name or not? Since I received the Call, that question has crossed my mind from time to time--usually when someone asks me, but sometimes on its own when I have a free moment in my head that isn't echoing the refrain, "I'm returning to parish ministry! I'm returning to parish ministry!" My first instinct is to keep it the way it is, and there's a number of reasons for it.
First, heaven is my home. I am in the world but not of it. Until the Lord calls me home, I am an alien and stranger, as Peter says in chapter 2 of his first epistle. Second, as a matter of practicality, this is how the blog started, and changing the name and how it appears in blogrolls is just a big pain in the behind. Besides, the subtitle of the blog reads, "A Confessional Lutheran blog begun from the place of my exile".
But third--and most important--in the Bible, usually God's children were sent into exile because of their sinfulness. Adam and Eve were exiled from the Garden because of their disobedience to the Word. Cain was exiled for the murder of his brother, Abel. Judah and Israel were exiled to Babylon and Assyria because they had fallen away from the Word of God and into apostasy. In my case, no matter what the motives of others might have been, I sinned in writing negatively about certain aspects of my congregation in my original blog. Whether or not it was the reason I was asked to resign, it was the reason I was given. And whether or not it was the reason I was asked to resign, my sinfulness in posting what I did gave me enough reason to acquiesce to the demand. Keeping this name has served and will continue to serve as a reminder that I must continue to love, thank God for, and speak well of the flock entrusted to my care, no matter the circumstances. God help me to do so.
What do you think? Keep it? Change it? If so, to what?