And I’m back.
Last week, I joined up with thirty young ministers in their first call and our mentors (who we call ‘the adults,’ which I find hilarious) in Orlando, Florida for the Bethany Ecumenical Fellows. This fellowship is so important to me, as it is a time of community, discernment, rest, restoration, spiritual practice, and conversation. I should note, when I say it’s in Orlando, it’s in a retreat center that we rarely leave during the week. It could have been anywhere.
The week goes like this: on Monday, we arrive and check-in as a large group. Tuesday we go off-site to meet people doing effective ministry or have sessions on finances or the Enneagram. Tuesday night we have small groups. Wednesday we have a worship service that leads us into a day of silence. Thursday, we worship out of silence and have a longer small group session. Then we have the afternoon off, and a party that night. I want you all to know, my team won hands-down at Celebrity. Friday, we all depart, renewed and ready for the next seasons of the church.
Sabbath has become a thing for me in the last two years. When I was a student minister, I used to take work home with me so that when I took a break from studying, I could work more. I became convinced that productivity and production were equated with wholeness, until I finally stopped, looked around and realized wholeness comes from being present in the possibilities. The first time I went to Bethany, I brought five books with me, convinced I’d have the time and drive to read through them. This time, I finished the Lincoln biography I’ve been meaning to read for years. (Spoiler alert: he dies in the end.) I also just sat in silence and gave thanks for life, this church, and our intersection in ministry.
I wish I could tie all this together into this Sunday’s sermon, like I do week after week in this space. I will say, we’re talking about the Reign of God in comparison to any other Reign. Take a look at the scriptures for this Sunday (Romans 13:1-7, 1 Peter 2:13-25) and let me know what you think. This will be a sermon where we have to step back, take a breath, and look at what God is doing in this world. I look forward to seeing you then, if not before.