Today I had a conversation with a parishioner about my rapidly upcoming leave. They shared how they heard a pastor tell of his experience taking the renewal leave required by his church. The story was touching of how God used the time to provide the pastor with the rest he needed, and it spoke of the significance of what God was able to do in the life of the pastor during his time of renewal. The parishioner then told me they hoped the time I would be away would be enough for me to find the rest I need. I was appreciative of their hopes and grateful for their expressed commitment to pray for me during this time!
I will be away for 133,920 minutes. Seeing that number in print somehow makes it seem quite large. I suspect the time will seem to pass quickly, but like the parishioner who came to see me today, I am praying God uses the time to bless our church, and me during this time. Early on the morning of June 16th, I will be driving north for my first retreat. I am excited to begin.
The work of the church will go on in fine fashion while I am away. The lay leaders have my full confidence and support. Much of what will happen in the life of our church this summer has already been discussed. Our leaders know my heart on these matters. Trust them as they lead you, for I surely do.
It has been a challenge for me to not offer my usual “Don’t hesitate to reach out if you need me,” as I have responded to the challenge’s folks are facing, lately. The words of the District Superintendent keep coming back to my mind, “Gone means, gone.” I realize life will happen during this time. Life events happen whether we are around, or not. We won’t share those life events during these minutes apart, but we will catch up on them when I return.
As I enter this time of renewal, I want you to know how deeply I appreciate the outpouring of support from the church. Some have expressed both joy for me and concern over how things will get along in my absence. Those concerns are natural. I simply ask you to not be overcome by them. I want you to think about this scripture if you come to an anxious place in the minutes ahead: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 NIV
I look forward to celebrating Pentecost and Holy Communion with you on Sunday!
Grace and Peace,
Rev. Don Gotham