Monday, October 18, 2010


This is one of those anniversary convergence years. I'm not sure why 5-year increments seem so important in our culture. Why is it that 25 years is more significant than, say, 21? (21 would be 7 years - a perfect number- times 3, accumulating perfection!) Why do we feel that a 49-year marriage is somehow disappointing, should one spouse not survive to the 50th? Curious.

Still, given how we do consider anniversaries, this is a big year for me. In decreasing order of importance:
  • 35 years of marriage (celebrated in June)
  • 25 years of full-time music ministry (quietly noted in July)
  • 55th birthday (around the corner)
Given the life-long commitment Karen and I made, as kids in 1975, it seems appropriate that this date is also the first anniversary I observe each year. It is also the one I have the most to say about year to year. I may not control my employment/vocation longevity, and I sure don't know when I will die. But so far as it depends on me, this marriage bond and covenant, this most coveted relationship and aspect of my life, is something I will do everything I can to hang onto.

The biggest surprise of my life was being called into vocational ministry. I didn't look for it, and I didn't prepare for it - not, at least, in the usual ways. But I welcomed it, and continue to celebrate the privilege and joy of it. Most of the time. There is only one relationship or commitment or covenant that trumps this calling: and I celebrate that each year, one month earlier.

Now, as to my age. Of course there is nothing I can do about that. I can't take credit for it, and I can't predict how many birthdays I'll have. I may be able to do some things, little things, wise things, to live well while I can. But I can't control my age. "My time is in [God's] hands." "So teach us to number our days aright." And that's really the best I can do.

But it does set me to wondering, as I approach that august age, 55. Official AARP eligibility. At College Church, I could move from "guest pastor" to official member of the Keenagers group. It all makes me wonder - what will the next 10-15 years of my vocational ministry be like, anyway? Will I continue to serve in all the ways I have done? Will I retain the privilege of overseeing and leading duly constituted services of worship? Will I train younger musicians to step into these roles? All of the above? Some of the above? None of the above?

These questions are not pensive, but exciting. I enjoy my work, the musicians and pastors I get to work with, and the satisfaction of entering my 15th year at College Church. I am enrolled in a graduate theology course, and applying for admission to that degree program. I think there has never been a more exciting time to be in church music - never more opportunity to serve creatively. I am convinced that regardless of how it looks, my calling will keep me engaged with planning and leadership of gathered worship.

If I don't know what it will all look like, next year, or a decade from now - well, then that is just like a bike ride in a city I haven't been in before. I know how to navigate, how to ride safely, and the right things to look for ... everything else is adventure.


Allen H Simon said...

AARP allows people to join starting at 50. If they haven't been hounding you since the day of your 50th birthday, you're lucky.

Chuck King said...

No, that's true Allen. I have been ignoring them for 5 years. The news today from France (strikes over the pension plan) makes me wonder: at what age do the French feel "old"?

Megan said...

Personally, I think that music anniversary is all off. You should be celebrating in increments of four. Or three. Or some multiple thereof. :-)