Yesterday, I came to the realization that tomorrow will be the four month mark of my return from sabbatical. That means I have been back as long as I was away. The interesting thing is that during these four months I think I have grown more than while I was away. Returning to Christ Presbyterian Church after sabbatical has been held its own unique challenges and blessings.
When I returned to Christ Presbyterian Church I returned with a commitment to spend more time in relationship with people. As I have said in the past, one thing I realized was that I had allowed practical concerns and duties to get in the way of relationships. One of the great strengths of CPC is that more than our activities connect us. We are proud of the fact that we seek to support and love one another on a deeper level. It has been a blessing to spend time just talking about life with our members and friends. I continue to seek opportunities to simply chat and enjoy the people of Christ Presbyterian Church. I would encourage everyone to make time to not only talk to me but to other congregants in such a way. I have experienced worship, service and prayer in a much deeper way through these conversations.
This time has also been one that has led me to some challenging moments as well. I returned to a church that was still moving right along. In some instances that movement has been in places where in the past I was an integral part of the planning and execution but am no longer needed. At times this has been a difficult dynamic. On one hand I have felt a bit lost in those moments but I have also been very thankful and impressed by those who have taken on leadership. I don’t think I can express to you how thankful I am for the spiritual leadership our session has provided. Many don’t even know the amount of time our leaders have spent not only maintaining current ministries but also working with a coach to help define our future. I would encourage you to not only thank an Elder but ask them about their work.
I don’t believe that I have adequately expressed my thanks to the congregation. Sabbatical was first and foremost about renewing my personal sense of call and to allow for a time of spiritual recharge. This is a gift that will pay dividends far into the future. Too many Pastors find themselves in a deep spiritual abyss before they ask for help. Thankfully, I was able to not only ask for the help but receive it. One thing I tried to help everyone understand prior to sabbatical was that it was intended to help not only extend and revitalize my ministry at Christ Presbyterian Church but also my overall calling to ministry in the church. Again, thank you.
I also don’t think I expressed my thanks to everyone who took on various leadership roles and tasks enough. Everyone who took on a new commitment did so in order to help both the congregation and myself become healthier. I know that for some that meant a lot more stress and for that I am in their debt.
Finally, I am thankful for the joy we experienced at Easter. Of course our focus should be on the joy that we receive through Christ resurrection. Still, in full disclosure, I have to say I am deeply thankful for the joy that I experienced through our congregation. The commitment of our choirs, their leaders and the depth of spiritual commitment of our members I witnessed was a testament to Christ Presbyterian Church’s strong faith. Thanks be to God!