I like to think of myself as a pretty gifted driver.  Except for the light pole in the empty parking lot I drove into after preaching in Davis a few years ago, my record is strong.

Navigating the car in unfamiliar areas, however, is not my gift.  Especially recently.  Red lights flashed and a bell sounded as I drove our rental vehicle through the toll a few weeks ago in Dallas.  A large truck shuffled around our car as I came to a complete stop trying to make sense of the commotion I’d inadvertently caused.

Mostly recovered from the trauma of driving in Texas, I programmed an address in the suburbs of Sacramento into Sarah’s iPhone before we left on Tuesday morning.  It should have been simple.  The address was correct.  We found the street.  The blue dot hovered over the red dot.  Still, we looped three times. Sarah was testy with me.  I was testy with Sarah.  We both fell momentarily out of love with our iPhones.

Following directions to new places…not my gift.

Fortunately, I’ve been to Santa Cruz before.  The roads were familiar as I made my way to our annual ordination retreat on Tuesday afternoon.  I missed much of the morning session looping around the building in Sacramento and then waiting with Sarah for ultrasound technicians at UC Davis.  I’m told a facilitator led our group of pastors through a series of exercises intended to help identify core spiritual gifts.

Missing the morning work was a reminder that Sarah’s pregnancy is the core gift in my life.  It’s what makes me anxious and excited and scared and hopeful and teary-eyed.  We have lots of books to help us navigate the journey ahead.  We have lots of family and friends ready to help us find our way.  I’m hopeful the books and the collective wisdom are better than the google maps on my iPhone.  Time will tell.

I rushed through an abbreviated version hoping to identify both “my core gift” and “the ways I share this gift with others.”

For today, I understand a core gift of mine to be creating new ways of being in community.  I do this by being open to the Spirit’s unfolding, connected to creative people, rooted in the deep traditions of our faith, and centered in my own identity as a beloved child of God.

As with any new way, the maps aren’t always clear.  Some maps don’t even recognize our destination.  Most maps don’t allow for the journey to be the destination.

Early in Genesis, God says to Abram:

Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.  I will make of you a great nation, and  I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing (12.1-2).

Abram’s gift was God’s call in his life.  Abram and Sarai responded by leaving the familiar ways of their settled life.  They journeyed to unknown places, finding God present all along the way.

As we begin to create a new community of faith in Sacramento, may we listen for where God is leading us and stay open to the ways God is showing us.  May God’s blessing lead us to be a blessing for others.