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Sharon’s Sabbatical Reflections August 23, 2014

Well, what an interesting Sunday morning.  I had planned to visit a different church today and had carefully checked their website last night to get the time and location.  What a surprise when I arrived to a sandwich board out front announcing that worship had actually started one hour EARLIER!!!!  I sat in my car for a few minutes trying to figure out my next move:  go in for the last fifteen minutes of worship?  slide out of the parking lot quietly?I decided on the second option and parked nearby in a neighbourhood I had not explored.  The walk gave me to think about the experience of not having the right information.  Most of us operate under the assumption that every church has a website and that all websites are  kept up to date and completely accurate.  Given that the church I planned to attend is in the midst of a major, visionary renewal process I didn’t give the website a second thought.  At the last UCC “More Franchises” congregational development event in Toronto I had made a point of attending the presentation about this church’s plan to turn their property into a large commercial/residential/arts/worship space.  It is the direction most church development specialists suggest because it frees the congregation from being solely dependent on offerings to stay financially solvent.  I saw a very effective example of this in Ashworth, England on a visit some years ago.  So, as I walked I had lots of time to think.  I missed the comfort of worship this week so soon after the passing of my friend.  I had been looking forward to the familiar and reassuring hymns and prayers to carry me through.  In addition, it would have been nice simply to be in the company of other believers.  Travelling alone can leave one feeling rather isolated and I craved some human interaction.It has served as a reminder of how important the rhythm of the week is for me.  I look forward to really sitting down with scripture and allowing it to speak to me.  The challenge of new insights on these ancient texts makes me think with my mind and my heart as I search for spiritual truths.  It’s likely a function of NOT worshipping this morning that I feel so strongly the tug and pull of wanting to sing and pray.   Especially I miss the words of another who is praying for me and with me.  Public prayer, our church family coming together in concern for one another, has the power to sustain me and focus me for the days ahead.  I realize not every sermon is a barnburner, but it has been my experience that out of every meditation I have heard a seed of real wisdom was planted.  It’s the reason I listen carefully and open to being surprised.The other reflection I made on my stroll today was about our ministry team at WPUC.  Throughout my sabbatical emails and texts have passed back and forth.  Even some phone calls have been exchanged.  All is in good order.  One of the main reasons I accepted the call to WPUC was the prospect it held to being a team ministry.  I yearned for the possibilities that could arise in a collegial working environment.  It is such a joy to work with Patrick, Luci, Laura, Myrna and Gina.  Each of them brings a treasure trove of unique gifts for ministry.  They are committed to the life of WPUC and work together seamlessly to care for the congregation and equip folks to share their gifts as well.  I have always operated on the principle that you love Christ and respect and care for the people Christ gives us.  This works in the church setting but, as I have found over the years, it’s a pretty reliable standard operating procedure in the rest of  life too.  Some churches refer to this as a core value.  Either way, it speaks to my grounding in life.  This said, I have every confidence that, in my absence, the church is in very good hands.  This is a blessing—the one I had hoped for when I came to WPUC so many years ago—and one I celebrate in this time of rest and reflection.Take care of one another.Sharon

Categories: General News, Sharon