Pace Yourself

 

Church is good, but it’s also hard. Cultivating and participating in a vibrant community of faith is a tremendous blessing, but it can also take a lot out of you. I feel deeply privileged to be the pastor and teacher of this congregation, and yet sometimes I also feel overwhelmed; not just by all that is happening in the present here at First Church or in the world, but by all I can see happening for us in the future. I look at our community as a place that is positively humming with potential – a potential the world truly needs us to fulfill - but sometimes in my efforts to be a good steward of all that potential I run myself ragged. 

 

It’s not easy for me to admit that to you all. I’d much rather be the minister who is not only pastoring a vital and growing congregation, but the one who’s doing it without either breaking a sweat or burning out.  The truth, however, is lot more complicated. About two weeks after Easter, with the high holy days of the church year successfully behind us, my immune system crashed. I ended up sick and in bed for the better part of a week and was forced to do some pretty serious soul searching.

 

Thankfully, God has blessed me with a number of friends and family who encouraged me to lay low and recuperate while also sharing some hard and loving words about the importance of self-care. I was deeply blessed by the fact that, even without my presence at some important meetings, the work of the church still got done, nothing fell through the cracks, life carried on.  This is a testament to the fact that we have wonderful and truly dedicated people on our staff and on our boards and they kept things humming right along.

 

It was a powerful affirmation for me: a reminder that the future of the church doesn’t all depend on me. (Thank you Captain Obvious!) I am just one part of a vast and beautiful community of competent and caring souls; all of whom are working together to build this miraculous thing we call the kingdom of God.

 

It is an affirmation I have cherished these past few weeks, no matter how sad or tragic the events around us, because I know that however hard things get, I have incredible people by my side: people I can lean on, depend on, and trust come what may. I truly believe the world needs places like First Church to grow and thrive, but that growth and vitality will be the result of all of us working together rather than any one person carrying the process forward alone.

 

I share this realization with you all because I think there are many of us who struggle with feeling overwhelmed and inadequate to the tasks at hand, whether we’re talking about church or just life in general. And as we move forward into a future that feels increasingly fraught and uncertain, I think those feelings will only intensify. 

 

I’ve heard a number of people when speaking about change in the church or just the vicissitudes of life say something like: “remember this isn’t a sprint. It’s a marathon. (sigh) So pace yourself accordingly.” What I think I’m finally coming to realize, however, is that life, be it our own or that of the church, isn’t a race at all. Our goal is not to run and run and run until we get to the finish line. Our goal is to simply be as faithful as we can be from moment to moment as we journey together wherever the Spirit leads.

 

As we set 3 new task forces into motion (please see the Council Notes), prayerfully consider who God is calling us to be and what it is God would have us do, I think we need to remember that even if we come up with some good and concrete resolutions and make some really big decisions, our work will still be far from over.  We are all in this together, not just till we get some things figured out, but for the long haul; so let us treat one another and ourselves accordingly.

 

Be careful and patient with one another. Speak the truth in love. As things pick up, give yourself permission to slow down as needed. Lean in when you feel the Spirit and lean on others when you need a break. Remember that your presence, your voice, your contribution is important – so very important - but not all important. You are part of the body of Christ the church, a vital part, but not Christ himself and that is okay. Something tells me that if we do our part he will be faithful and more than cover his… cover us all with love and grace as we journey on.

 

Blessings and peace be upon you all,

Pastor Sarah