When I was on sabbatical, I bought a handbag with the word “grateful” on it. I am not much of a shopper. I can usually talk myself out of almost any purchase (much to my children’s disappointment as they were growing up). But the bag’s simple message spoke to me. It defined my prevailing mood throughout my sabbatical. For the entire four months I was away, I experienced gratitude.
I was grateful for
- Time to rest. When people ask what I did during sabbatical, I am hesitant to honestly say, “I slept. A lot.” I had underestimated just how tired I was. The impact of ongoing ministry especially during the pandemic combined with my own experience of the disease in addition to the loss of my father-in-law that winter all brought me to a level of exhaustion. I was grateful to stop and rest.
- This congregation who lived out their belief in God’s concept of Sabbath and sabbatical by providing both funds and time. God promises that rest is not only necessary but also good for us. I was grateful for this extended time of renewal.
- Danielle’s ministry and the congregation’s openness to a new minister. EWCC has a long history of welcoming and nurturing new and student ministers. This congregation has offered a gracious atmosphere in which to learn and grow. And Danielle did an excellent job serving this congregation. I was grateful to know that EWCC’s powerful ministry continued under skilled leadership.
- Time with my family. I didn’t have to squeeze in time to visit my parents – I could relax and offer them the care and attention they deserved. Roger and I were overjoyed to travel with our adult children – such a treat to experience the beauty of Alaska together as a family. Those precious memories are priceless. And I am so grateful.
This experience of gratitude provided new insight into the phrase, “My cup overflows.” My heart was overwhelmed daily with gratitude for the beauty I encountered, for the opportunity to rest and heal, and for God’s invitation simply to soak it all in and enjoy.
And now I am grateful to be back among you as we venture forward in this new era of pandemic and healing. I am grateful that we are surrounded by the presence of God, whose steadfast love endures forever.