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Sailing Away

November 28, 2010


photo by Stephen Eastop, Melbourne, AU


Jesus said to them, “The light is with you for a little longer. Walk while you have the light, so that the darkness may not overtake you. If you walk in the darkness, you do not know where you are going. While you have the light, believe in the light, so that you may become children of light.” -John 12:35-36a

My Christmas article in the church newsletter was all about the early Christmas present I got from the congregation in being able to attend the Writing for the Pastoral Life workshop at Woodstock this year. I remain thankful for the opportunity. Leaving a church in the midst of a stewardship would be ill-advised if it wasn’t the right church; thankfully, this one is the right church.

You cannot walk away from anything when you cannot trust how it’s going to go in your absence. I know people who cannot leave their dogs in a kennel or who still, four years after their first child’s birth, have not hired a babysitter and gone out on a date again. Sooner or later, you have to trust that someone around you is worthy of your trust. Until you can do that, you will be consumed with worry.

If the disciples could learn to walk Jesus’ light after he departed from the Earth, I believe we can learn to do without much of what seems essential to us. I don’t mean to say that they were not special people. I just mean that they had even more to lose than we did, and they made it; they kept on and managed to recreate enough of what they’d learned in him. The kept teaching, and they kept supporting one another. They had nothing to the thankful for in the aftermath of his death, and they had everything to be thankful for in the aftermath of his death.

It’s a long way from the plight of the disciples to a minister taking time off in the midst of Stewardship Season. But ministers tend to have an exaggerated sense of their utility, to put it mildly. It’s interesting to note how few congregations actually get to do things on their own, simply because clergy are too busy fulfilling their own sense of “neededness” by being in the building every time it opens and at the beck and call of anyone who cares to pick up a phone. No wonder they need a sabbaticals, and no wonder they come back complaining that it wasn’t long enough.

For my part, I am blessed. I am blessed with a congregation who knows the ship is sailing whether I’m at the wheel or not. I am blessed by a Board of Deacons who know full well that they can craft and lead vital worship whether I’m preaching or not. I am blessed by a Church School team who knows that our children’s knowledge of their faith will only grow with constant tending. I am blessed by folks who care so much about others that they pour themselves into our missions projects and keep them percolating from week to week. So many hearts go into making Franklin Federated a constant presence in the Franklin Community.

When I’m away, do I assume everything will be perfect? Not necessarily. But I do know that faithful folks will continue our gospel work; and when I’m back on board, we’ll keep right on sailing.


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