CHILDREN’S “OLYMPICS” / INDOOR GAMES – SATURDAY, JANUARY 28, 9:30 – 11:00 a.m. For families with children who are Sunday School ages (Pre-K through 4th grade). Parents are asked to attend with their children.
Each year I use the February Column to reprise my Annual Report. As we enter this new year we pledge to support one another, prayer for each another and celebrate the good work that God has begun in this parish community. Peace my friends. Pastor Jeff
One man challenged another to an all-day wood chopping contest. The challenger worked very hard, stopping only for a brief lunch break. The other man had a leisurely lunch and took several breaks during the day. At the end of the day, the challenger was surprised and annoyed to find that the other fellow had chopped substantially more wood than he had. I don’t get it, he said. Every time I checked, you were taking a rest, yet you chopped more wood than I did. But the winning woodsman just smiled and replied, But you didn’t notice, that every time I sat down to rest – I was sharpening my ax!
I know it seems a bit of an odd story to begin a pastor’s Annual Report, but this year I’d like to reflect less on what has taken place in the last year, and more on what is before us. I wish to share some thoughts about my upcoming sabbatical. From Mid-June throughout the month of July I will be away from my work here as pastor for a six week sabbatical. Sabbatical comes from the Hebrew word – Shabbat – literally, to cease. In the book of Genesis, a Shabbat is taken by God on the seventh day. God ceases from creation and rests. In the Book of Exodus Shabbat is the first command given after the flight from Egypt. In the Book of Leviticus, God commands that every seventh year is a time of Shabbat. In fact the command to Shabbat is given 170 times in the bible! And certainly you can not read the gospels without understanding that Jesus was a person of Shabbat – a man who often ceased what he was doing to rest.
These past ten years at Messiah have been a wonderful adventure. There have been so many great memories, great liturgical experiences, joyful gatherings and of course God has blessed this community in abundance. We are growing so quickly and in so many different ministries. Still, I know that to pastor a growing community into the next decade I need to sharpen my ax. I need to Shabbat – to cease from my daily activity and spend some time learning, reflecting, praying and resting. The ELCA recommends a sabbatical time every seven years for a rostered pastored and the Pastoral Parish Council and I have planned mine for this summer.
Starting in mid-June, Melissa and I and the children will be traveling to the Rocky Mountains as I will be enrolled in the Luther Academy of the Rockies. For two weeks I will be in class with seminary professors and theologians updating my understanding of the church and sharpening my theological ax. Afternoons will be spent with family, hiking, exploring nature and enjoying the beauty of the Rockies. Melissa and will then return home for a couple of weeks for family visits before heading off to the east coast. We’ll travel to Washington DC to re-visit my old university, spend time in historic Williamsburg, Va. and then spend a few days near the ocean on Virginia Beach.
During this time of Shabbat, Pastor Gil will be covering pastoral emergencies and presiding at Sunday liturgies. He will preach some of the liturgies and we will have guest preachers for some as well. The Pastoral staff will continue their great work in keeping the parish alive and healthy. I am aware that few people in life have the opportunity to take a sabbatical. I am grateful for the church’s financial support and for the council’s encouragement in this time of rest. During these six weeks I will pray for you, my Messiah Church friends, and trust that you will continue to gather faithfully every Sunday morning and lift me and my family in your prayers as well. God has done great things through our common ministry. I believe that God has even greater plans for us in the next ten years.