As you may know, Robbie Ytterberg, our new Associate Pastor, and I spent a couple days on retreat at Camp Crestfield. It was a time for the two of us to step back from the intensity and demands of our work and get a sense of what God is doing in our lives and in our church. We spent time praying for you, our beloved church, getting to know each other more deeply, thinking out into the year in our sermon planning and preaching schedule, and working on strategic planning. Or to put it another way, it was time to breathe deeply and take in the Holy Spirit. I knew we had done the right thing when- near the beginning of our time – Robbie smiled and said in wonder, “Listen…listen to the quiet.”
On the afternoon of our time away we took a long walk through the camp grounds, to the far end of the property. We shared our lives, what makes us laugh and weep, who has shaped us in our faith, and what gets us most excited about our calling as pastors. The winds were whipping up in a storm, the sky was spitting rain, and we were in awe of the power and beauty of God. But the conversation continued even as we walked back faster than we had gone out.
That evening we took a drive through the surrounding hills, taking in the elegant beauty of the sun setting on the hills. Suddenly Robbie noticed something bounding through the fields. It was a red fox. He paused, stuck his head in the air to get a sense of the intruders, then continued exploring the field. Later, on a very narrow and desolate road, we spotted a large dark figure in the road. We stopped and emerged to come face to snout with a huge turtle. He had climbed from the marsh below up a steep bank to the flat of the road. I knocked gently on his shell, spoke to him about the meaning of life, and he barely moved – did not even go back into his shell. Hey, he would make a good parishioner- taking in my message with such alertness! Finally we left him alone and returned to the camp.
As we drove back to the church and our daily responsibilities, we realized how vital it is to get away and be with God…to listen to the quiet…to enjoy creation…to grow deeper with others in the Lord…to balance our working with the blessed rhythm of worship, prayer and study. I want you to know that such time for your pastors is time well invested, as it is for you, for us all.
In our time away we were visited by a fox, a turtle…and God. And God stayed.
See you on Sunday,
Here are some important notes for your calendar: the Spaghetti Dinner Youth Mission Fundraiser this Saturday at the church, from 5:00 to 8:00pm. Please come and support your youth and our church. Camp Rally Day this Sunday for the children and youth- in the Great Room between services for both children and parents. And please remember the Ordination and Installation Service for Robbie Ytterberg on Sunday the 29th at 4:00pm. It will be a great celebration, with a dinner to follow.