It seems to have been a bit of a tradition for me, year after year, to take note of the things I’ve been thankful for in recent days. Without further ado, and in no particular order:
- My first five months as a pastor. God has been unfolding, at a measured pace, the full panorama of what this entails. I am so grateful for it, and so amazed at my friends who have gone in full-time and deal with e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g all at once.
- Over 26 years of marriage. Good start…
- Thanksgiving dinner with Mary and the kids. We went out again this year, and once again had a lively conversation at dinner that we just never quite seem to do around the house, with everyone going in different directions. It’s special.
- All the people I’ve met on the journey into ministry who have made it special and have been supporting me at different stages.
- Greek class is over soon. SO thankful for that ending!
- Sarah’s 2019, which featured her completing high school, being in her own graduation ceremony, and landing a job in another city that lets her explore the field she thinks she really wants to do. I am beyond grateful that she is loving the work and has such a great opportunity to see what it can be about.
- Sharing with David–either a steak dinner, or a story and a laugh, or whatever oddity he’s found online that he wants to tell me about. I’m grateful for him and for him wanting to share his world with me.
- The sacred privilege I’ve had of helping a parishoner transition to death and the promise of what lies beyond. Certainly one of the more moving, significant, and utterly real roles I’ve been able to play since joining the pastorate this year.
- My new boss at my day job, who has made it an easy transition and who has also been very supportive of my “part-time job.”
- God’s blessings, abundant such that we can redo our kitchen and make plans to redo the basement without having to take out a loan.
- Our trip to England in January. Still a highlight of the year, sometimes wish I could be back there.
What have you to be thankful for this year?
I stayed home from work today. Called out sick.
I don’t do that very often: I don’t tend to come down with something; probably the last real sick leave I took was when my appendix came out last year and needed more time than I wanted to recover. But starting Sunday afternoon, and into the front half of the week, I felt like I was moving in molasses, and achy. Didn’t have a stuffy head or anything else, so I was pretty sure it wasn’t flu or something serious. But still, had no energy and couldn’t shake the feeling of blah. So when I woke up this morning and it was all the same, I decided to take a sick day.
While I did work on my final paper for my Worship Leadership class, I also napped. And that felt good. I had been sleeping well enough, I thought, but by early afternoon I just couldn’t focus any longer and needed to get into the toes-up position in the recliner. Two hours later, I felt better: less achy, less sluggish.
So am I fighting something? Or just tired from everything going on?
Does it matter?
In the end, one of the things we talked about in our Vocation of Ministry class last year was how we have to honor our bodies and the signals they put out. I know I’m definitely the type to keep plugging and keep working past the point of tiredness. In Orwell’s Animal Farm, I’m the Boxer the horse, the one whose answer to every setback is, “I will work harder.” Perhaps today was a gift, an opportunity from God to step out of the everyday and to rest a little. There’s no shame in that: the only shame would be in ignoring the signals and burning out before I even began.
In John 14, Jesus promises that we can have anything if we ask it in his name. But what does that really mean? Can I ask for a new car? Can I get a loved one healed?
We have a lot of misconceptions about what praying “in Jesus’ name” means. Has it become just a habitual tag onto the end of a prayer? Or does is mean something deeper? My sermon this past weekend dealt with what praying in Jesus’ name really means, and what it means to invoke a name in the Bible. Give it a listen and let me know what you think.