Retirement – July 1, 2018
Well, here we are! Six and a half years ago we arrived on Lopez and we have done quite a lot since then:
6 Baptisms, 13 Funerals, 5 Weddings, and 15 Confirmations and receptions, plus new people all the time
The Best Bribe award we won for our July 4th Float
My skateboarding down the aisle when the new park opened
The full-immersion baptism of Zoey Beecher
Funky lighting going on and off during services and concerts (the Holy Spirit?)
The multi-church events of Lessons & Carols and Palm Sunday, Advent and Lent programs with lots of soup and bread.
Government food distribution, summer lunch program, daily food pantry
Food, and more food – Pancakes on Shrove Tuesday; August picnics; brunches for Annual Meetings, Epiphany, and Easter, and today
Sharing our Parish Hall with the community, especially the Family Resource Center
Funds raised for an Episcopal Church in Belgium helping African refugees
Sharing in the Eucharist 50 Sundays every year (Palm Sunday and the Blessing of the Animals don’t count in that – neither do the mid-week services that we have)
All this with a church family of around 100 people of all ages and abilities!
In reality, very few of these things are unique to my being here. And that is important to remember. Any given vicar stays only a short while; the parish (that would be you all) is here for the long term. The traditions, the liturgy, and the bond we have with each other is here for the long term.
The next few months will interim, transitional time. “The pause that refreshes” like the ad campaign a while back. Think of how we spend the interim travel time on the ferry and watch your fellow passengers. We talk to people we rarely see, we work on the finances of our business, read, do jig saw puzzles, or stretch out for a power nap. That time gives us a transition from island life to the hyper-schedule we have when we go to ‘America’.
Fons and I are planning a one-month trip by car to Toronto and back. Lots of sightseeing along the way. This means what should be transition time is nearly the whole experience. Instead of flying to see Fons’ brother, and spending our time with him, the travel time is the highlight. The journey becomes important, not just the destination.
So, now that the profile and search for a new vicar is underway, do we sit and wait for someone to arrive? That’s it? We make no decisions, we don’t do anything, we sit idly by? You know the answer has to be no. This time is like hibernation or pregnancy – lots going on while we wait.
The Episcopal Church takes its time in these interims. We are asked to use this time to look at ourselves, who we are, what do we want in the future. We are in a good, secure, and steady place here at Grace, but there is always room for new ideas to be created and explored. For individuals, it may be time to try a new ministry, rather than one you have been doing for years. Maybe it is time to start a new Bible study group, or a project in the community. Maybe it is time to sit quietly in prayer for the first time in your life.
God gave us the commandment to take a day off – all animals, all people – the Sabbath. We need physical, spiritual, and mental time off to be fully in tune with our world. St. Benedict expected his monks to live a life balanced in work, worship, prayer, recreation, and rest. My Rule of Life has had a couple of different rhythms. The rest part sometimes only comes with vacation times, not a day every week. Still, it is there. Prayer time doesn’t come every day, but I try to find ways of taking a spiritual retreat on a regular basis. We all figure out a daily or weekly or seasonally ways to balance our lives.
I am not at all concerned that Grace will have a holy and good transition time. Everyone in this congregation is part of how this community thrives. The leaders among you are people of faith and of God. You are all people of faith and of God.
Take this interim time to pray:
for what being a Christian means in this nation at this time, and how to respond;
for new and creative ways that the church can respond to life around us;
for understanding and accepting new leadership;
for continued discernment of your own path to God.
And, just as I ask God’s thanks for bringing me here, I ask God’s blessing on all of you. I also ask that you pray for God to bless me as well.