Walk with us through the desert, Lord, even as we stumble and
Create a holy pause in our cluttered lives.
Empty us of all that would keep us from
entering into your suffering for the
sake of the world.
I’m giving up church for Lent.
You heard me.
After a challenging year of rigorous work, opening a new facility, welcoming new staff and integrating many new members, I find myself strangely . . . exhausted.
After much thought and prayer (not to mention a couple of good friends yelling at me about the fact that I might not be able to save the entire world single-handedly), I asked church leadership if I could take some time: time to recover, reenergize, reorganize and, hopefully, sleep all the way through one whole night.
Thanks to the wonderful Calvary congregation, this novel idea for me has actually become a reality.
When I realized, “Hey! My friends might be right! I really need a break!” I finally gathered the courage to talk with church leadership about the idea.
Cringing and ready to hear, “You slacker!” (Is it any surprise I have issues? Please!), instead I heard comments like: “I am so relieved to hear you say you’re taking some time” and “Do you think 5 weeks is enough to gather your strength and come back ready for Easter?” and “Thank you so much for trusting us to take care of the church while you are gone. That means a lot to me.”
My original plan for worship during Lent was inspired by the beautiful words beginning this blog entry (written by my friend Sharlande). Lent is my very favorite church season of the entire year, and planning meaningful worship is an experience that, for me, compares in excitement and energy to, say, Mark looking ahead at a whole season of playing shortstop on the Baylor Alumni Softball Team.
I just love Lent.
So taking time away from church during my favorite season of the entire year is, well, hard . . . and I swear I had this planned before I decided to take some time off: at Calvary our theme for Lent this year is A Holy Pause, a whole season of actively remembering to pause, confess, open our hearts, take time to really listen for God.
Thanks to this community that has loved and cared for me and my family, I am getting an opportunity to really, really take A Holy Pause.
What a gift.
Just the thought of rest and time away makes me feel stronger and more whole, ready to reenter the year ahead with enthusiasm and energy.
I am a little worried, though, about the bulletins . . . I mean, what will happen if I don’t do a final proofread? And staff meeting . . . those Calvary staff members can get up to a lot of trouble if they are not supervised . . . and don’t even get me started on the deacons! Who’s going to keep them in check? For five weeks I won’t be there to invite folks to pass the peace during worship! Who will greet visitors at the door? And the really serious question: can I possibly turn off my BlackBerry for 5 whole weeks?
I think I might have to admit that everyone will probably survive and the world might possibly keep turning even without me as cruise director for awhile. I don’t quite know how to feel about this fact, to be honest, but I do know this: I love this church; I love the pastorate; I am tired.
And the reality is, church membership stepping up, laity taking charge of thoughtful planning; staff energized by worship leadership . . . hmmmmm, come to think of it, isn’t this what I’ve been working toward all this time? How strange that this idea of community, gathered and led by each other on this journey of faith, could actually be lived out. How strange that this dream I believe and preach might have the opportunity to take on real and tangible life, if only I would get out of the way!
Not just strange, but how wonderful! How very, very wonderful.
I guess during this Holy Pause I’ll have to hang on tight to what I say I believe about transformational community and the Spirit of God empowering us all to help each other be the body of Christ . . . and allow room for God’s Spirit to do some rejuvenating work in my own heart and soul.
This is the work of Lent for me, and to do it . . . (this is so hard) I am giving up church.
(But what about the newsletter?!?!)
Pastor Amy will return to worship April 1, Palm Sunday, when the deacons will plan and lead worship (hang on!). We’ll then enter Holy Week together and move and onward and upward into the adventures of 2007. During the time Pastor Amy is away some excellent voices will grace Calvary’s pulpit: Shelby Haggray, Eric Bebber, Stan Hastey, Brent Walker, Leah Grundset and . . . don’t forget . . . the deacons!
What a gift . . . time for us all to take A Holy Pause.