This advent has seemed like a particularly busy one this year. I suppose that shouldn’t surprise me given that in the midst of all the regular preparations for Christmas, I am also preparing for my extended absence. But somehow, it always seems like there should be more time. In my teenage years there was a song by Alabama that I liked called ‘I’m in a hurry”. The words go like this: “I’m in a hurry to get things done, I rush and I rush until life’s no fun. All I really gotta do is live and die, I’m in a hurry and I don’t know why”.
We tend to think of Christmas as a time when things speed up and we have to hurry to get it all done. There’s so much to do, so many presents to get, and so many preparations to make! And we always end December wondering how the holiday season flew by so fast. How do we slow down, pause, and let the wonder in? This season this has certainly been a theme for me. But at the same time, there is a persistent call to prepare, and to pay attention to the story of Christmas. Somehow easier said than done.
And now I am being gifted with the opportunity to have an intentional time to step away. The United Church has a policy to offer ministers and church leaders who have been in the same place for at least 5 years a three-month period of renewal. I have been eligible for a sabbatical since before I transitioned to this new role, and now it’s time. This policy is intended to help us step back from the busyness and responsibility of ministry which often draws on personal resources of mind, heart, body and soul, and gain perspective, wisdom and energy.
During my sabbatical, I will be taking the first in a five-course series offered by the Canadian Association for Society Executives which leads to a certified designation for not-for-profit Executive Directors. I will also be travelling to Thailand with World Pilgrim Global Awareness Tours hosted by Ray McGinnis and Doris Kizinna. And finally, I will be taking part in a retreat in Puerto Rico at the Kineo Center doing some work with the Enneagram. It will be a full-time, but one filled with many adventures and learning opportunities!
I am so grateful to my colleagues who are stepping up to provide coverage in my absence. Without them, it would not be possible for me to be away, and I am confident that you will be well cared for in my absence. Acting Executive Ministers will be Rev Dr Karen Medland. Contact Joel Den Haan regarding property matters. If you are unsure who to contact, please reach out to the all-knowing, marvellous Mauricio Araujo and he can re-direct you. Karen is unavailable during January 25 – February 15 so please contact Mauricio during that time to be re-directed.
You may be aware that National has been doing some work to review the Cost of Living categories that come into effect on July 1, 2023. This was done in partnership with an external organization and factors in cost of housing along with other cost factors like groceries and gas. The result is that a significant number of Communities of Faith have been placed in a lower category in Chinook Winds Region. The lowering of category is not applicable to current pastoral relationships. To be clear, in places that have been moved down, all current salaries will remain the same and are entitled to the cost of living increase. However, any increase in category must be implemented as per the guidelines. This new categorization can be applied to future and current search processes. Please contact Karen Medland in the new year if you have any questions.
As I leave, I leave you with this blessing for you, and for me:
To all that is chaotic in you, let there come silence.
Let there be a calming of the clamouring, a stilling of the voices that have laid their claim on you, that have made their home in you, that go with you even to the holy places but will not let you rest, will not let you hear your life with wholeness or feel the grace that fashioned you.
Let what distracts you cease. Let what divides you cease. Let there come an end to what diminishes and demeans, and let depart all that keeps you in its cage.
Let there be an opening into the quiet that lies beneath the chaos, where you find the peace you did not think possible and see what shimmers within the storm. ~ Jan Richardson, from paintedprayerbook.com
I look forward to seeing you all in April!
Executive Minister, Chinook Winds & Pacific Mountain Regions