I almost didn’t go.
There’s just so much on my to-do list,
so much to follow up on after Annual Conference,
so much to prepare for a new appointment year,
so many beloved people (family, friends, churches, organizations) needing something.
It felt selfish.
But it also felt necessary.
I went to step out of the steady stream of joyous and productive business.
I went to renew an old acquaintance with Rev. Naomi Tutu.
I went to meet Fr. James Allison, a biblical theologian who’s gifted me with new insights.
I went to refresh my theological perspective.
Leaving for the Theology and Peace Conference in Nashville, immediately after Annual Conference, meant trusting that God would provide, hold, tend to all those things that almost kept me from going to what turned out to be the richest continuing education experience I’ve had in years.
Maybe the harder it is to walk away for a while, the more we really need it. Isn’t that the point of Sabbath? Even when we absolutely love the work we do, we need to practice letting it be God’s, and letting ourselves be God’s. This means personal sabbath and it also means putting down our work for a while when we are called to come together for Annual Conference, Ministry Day, or covenant group time. If we don’t prioritize these in our planning we are essentially saying to God, my work is more important than yours.
It can also be hard to step away when we are reluctant to embrace what we are called too. I almost didn't go because I know Nashville is hot and humid in the summer. But my anticipation of "the worst" was more than overcome by my experience of "the best."
This summer, I find myself wondering what it would be like for all of Methodism to be in Sabbath? In the exhausting work of ministry and of transformation, could we simply rest together for a while as community in the presence of God? I know from the renewal I feel coming back from Nashville that laying it down renews us for picking it back up again (or for leaving some things rest so that new things may begin).
It’s a great joy to see how many of our churches are active this summer, worshipping, playing, and resting together. (23% of our MidMaine churches increased worship attendance in 2018 due to their increasing community engagement.) May God bless your coming and your going, your work and your rest in this delightful gift of a season in Maine!
Karen L Munson
A pastor and artist, I'm wondering while I'm wandering through God's marvelous creation.