Sabbath and Surfing

Last month I wrote about the challenge of committing to a Sabbath, and how difficult I felt it would be. The more I push into 2020, though, the more I am coming to think that is God’s word for me for this year–Sabbath. How God wants me to develop habits of rest in the midst of the crashing waves all around, how I can learn to surf all the things I need to do while still coming to a place of renewing rest.

I had a little taste of it this weekend, when we were visiting family for the long holiday weekend. While there’s certainly things to be done while visiting–helping around the house, going places, etc.–there was also welcome time to just sit, to sleep in, to rest. I know I nodded off at least once in the rocking chair while “studying” for class. (Don’t tell the professor.) And I don’t think we got any less than 8 hours’ sleep each night, which means easily 2-3 hours more than usual. It was wonderful to get away, to see family and friends, and to have a real chance to disconnect and recharge.

At the same time, I am working to stay atop the various waves of this season. We started school again at the beginning of the month, and so far I’ve been able to keep up with the work. One of the classes, my first Mentored Ministry class, invites us to update our Rule of Life that we developed in a previous class. Mine contained a pledge to begin honoring a sabbath, to do more physical exercise (time for longer walks with the Ferg), and to not obsess over getting A’s this term–to accept “good enough” and to move on.

So how’s that coming?

The weekend’s sabbath time was much appreciated and needed. I am also keeping a commitment to more social time by having dinner with a friend tonight on the way home to a church meeting (yay me for fitting it in!), and I’ve struggled to not obsess over the posts I’m making in classes–and still doing well, it appears. I have work to do in our Connect ministries this month, and will need to carve out some time for that. But for now, I feel I’m able to keep on the surfboard and ride the waves, and I am learning that in part it’s down to how much I am able to set aside time for sabbath.

I had mentioned that Saturdays would be my sabbath day; how are those coming? Wellllll….  The first one was taken up by a required on-campus class, so, insert irony here. The next, though, was the weekend away visiting family, and I do feel I was able to make use of it. This coming Saturday has very little on it as well. Check back with me on how this develops.

Through The Waters

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you. (Isaiah 43:2)

I had previously shared that my January was going to be intense and nuts and just a wreck; and certainly it was. We had two m-a-j-o-r budget processes to complete between Christmas and the beginning of February; I certainly hadn’t planned to come down with bronchitis and an ear infection in the middle of it, or deal with some family matters, but those added to the pressures of the month.

Which brings us to the week just ended. Monday we released the 2020 spend plan to Congress, on time and complete. Wednesday and Thursday we were on the Hill briefing staff about the spend plan; then tomorrow we release the 2021 President’s Budget, again on time and complete. (Watch this space on Monday night for our 2021 work to show up.) I am beyond proud of our team at my Day Job for all they did to get us there.

And I am beyond amazed at the God who got me through it all.

As I write I am at the Orlando airport after a quick weekend class, part of my seminary experience. My coworkers at my Day Job were aghast that I would spend the weekend not resting and sleeping after an exhausting month (and being sick), but flying hundreds of miles within 24 hours for an 8-hour class. What they don’t understand is how incredibly recharging such a time can be for me. This class is one of my required Mentored Ministry classes, and we spent the time talking about all that can derail us from God’s work, and the many ways that ministry can drag us down. Inspiring, I know. But actually, it is: by confronting the reality of the work I am beginning, I can think through how best to stay focused on orthopraxis and not orthodoxy: in other words, on how to lead people to BE the church, rather than to just RUN a church. The key is to remain in connection with the Holy Spirit: as Jesus promised, remain in the vine and I will remain in you (John 15:5).

We still have work to do at the Day Job; the rollout press conferences are this week, and there will be Congressional testimony to prepare. But I’m more excited about the work we’re going to begin at Sydenstricker to reinvigorate our Connect ministries starting this spring. And now that the spring term has started at seminary, lots of reading and writing beckons as well. But you know? The same God who led me through the waters of January will lead me through all that as well. I can’t wait to see what unfolds next.

Amazing Grace

Last weekend I had the second of my “graded” sermons–ones in which the Senior Pastor has to take notes and let me know if my theology is sufficiently correct as a United Methodist. This time, the topic was on God’s grace, and our distinctly Wesleyan understanding of it.

I’m really enjoying our livestream option; click here and look for the February 2 11am service. Let me know what you think!