In three short days this message will be posted on my door, inbox, and voicemail. When worship ends on Sunday the ten week sabbatical you have granted me will begin. Not since junior high school have I received such an extended break from my vocation.
As I enter this period of research, reflection and renewal my spirit is filled with gratitude. I am deeply mindful of the privilege of this gift. So in these last days of anticipation, I first offer my deepest thanksgiving for the Hanover community: to you who recognize – and respond to – the need for seasons of re-creation. I thank you for the blessing of this coming season, and pray that all of its benefit will be used in your service.
Yet my gratitude drills even deeper. Tonight I am especially grateful because I bear no worry, concern, or anxiety about departing. In my absence from Hanover the only difference will be my absence. The daily activities and events, programs and ministries, and especially the worship services, will continue without interruption – and with no less meaning.
I’ve long maintained (and the church development gurus all agree with me) that healthy communities of faith are not dependent upon pastoral leadership. A healthy congregation, yes, employs the gifts of its pastor, but in his/her absence others offer their gifts so that the congregation’s journey continues without missing a step.
So tonight I thank you for the gift of rest. Even more, I praise God for the greater gift of rest that comes without worry, concern or anxiety.
May God bless our journey and each of its seasons, that, together, we would know…