Can we talk? Come a little closer. This is important.
It could be the 60-80 hour work weeks I've had. It could be the running from one end of town to the other making visitation calls, getting to know the congregation, meeting the community at large, helping organize large events, like the Passover Seder, and the Military Appreciation luncheon. It could be the post-Easter collapse most folks feel (hey, it even shows up in church attendance, often recognized as the lowest week of the year right after Easter). It could be the wrestling with the work that needs to be done around the church, and trying to troubleshoot and problem solve, for roof repairs, plumbing issues, inter-office dynamics, and church politics, locally, regionally and nationally.
I'm worn out just talking about all that.
Much of what has happened this year has been good. It was about this time last year that Anna and I started getting things together to make a move to Santa Maria. We were house shopping, visiting with our churches, establishing basic connections, and packing up from Ojai. We have been blessed in our time here, as the people of this community have helped us to get settled, loved us, and cared for us, and our daughter, Sophia.
But, in the midst of all this good stuff, and trying to pray through the troubles, as well as address the issues that need correction, I forgot something very important. And I fell into sin. A common sin no less. I stopped taking Sabbath.
There was so much to do, so many people to meet and, and, and...Now I am really tired!
I forgot that even God took a break. "And on the seventh day God rested".
I need to take my day off. I need your help in doing so. I try to schedule Fridays for my day off. I need that time to recover inside of me. I probably need to think seriously about taking data fasts on Fridays - no email, no phone, no computer (which means no writing there either). I know Sophia, for one, would be thrilled with this scheme, as it means I would pay more attention to her. The truth is I would then have more energy to pay attention to you as well.
So what happens if there is a major emergency on a Friday, and the people of the church need to reach me. Well, we will have to work out a plan for that. I can tell you we have two exceptional Lay Leaders, Brad Jones and Kathy Sue Phillips, who can probably help lead the way. Our church Administrative Assistant, Alesia Yglesias, is trained in disaster management, and will be plenty capable of getting things accomplished. We have very capable chairs of Trustees, Finance and Staff Parish Relations - Carl Phillips, Don Davis and Dick Parry, who are all quite knowledgeable to ease us through the immediate crisis. So that's the "what ifs?"
The truth is, you need Sabbath rest too. Many of you may need to step back and see what a day of just settling in, and letting God speak through the day to you would look like. You may need to set those other "pressing" projects aside, and allow for family and rest to re-assert themselves in your life. There is a tradition in the South of "porch sitting". The general idea is to grab a glass of sweet tea, and go find a nice rocking chair on your front porch, and just rock. Be at peace with yourself, with God and with the world that surrounds you. For one day, let the world show you its pace, and stop trying to chase a pace of your own.
You see, God created the Sabbath for man, not man for the Sabbath. In other words, you need to rest too. It wasn't an extra day to cram some more in, as so many of us have lived it to be.
May God bless you in your Sabbath taking.