Two minister friends and I were discussing that favorite topic of the holy grapevine, pastoral relocations. A certain name came up, and one man said, "I hear he's going to present his ministry to a church on Long Island."

Present his ministry. I rolled the phrase over in my mind. What a lovely euphemism for the whole awkward business of candidating, I thought. The questioning, he eyeing, the smiling, the chitchatting, the sidestepping, the posturing, the preaching with conviction but not exuberance, with certainty but certainly without controversy, with the appropriate length (anywhere between twenty-two and twenty-two-point-five minutes), the suppressing of the inner yell to have it all over with and be back home . . .

One is hard pressed not to scorn this weekend as a dog-and-pony show. Could the Spirit of God influence this elegant minuet even if he tried? Will this specially primped congregation bear any resemblance to the real people of the future, once they settle down to living with ...

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