by Pastor Vera Guebert-Steward
31 Crowds of people were coming and going so that Jesus and his followers did not even have time to eat. He said to them, “Come away by yourselves, and we will go to a lonely place to get some rest.” ~ Mark 6:31 (New Century Version)
Not sure about you, but when I was little and it came time to take a nap, I really did fight it tooth and nail. I didn’t want to miss anything. Sleeping in the middle of the day when everyone else was playing, conversing, even snacking didn’t sit well with little Vera. I was a high-energy kid and I am a high-energy adult. Occasionally I’ll nap in my 63rd year of life, but not too often. I must be pretty worn down before I miss any daylight by taking a rest.
The Rocky Mountain Synod of the ELCA suggests that an ordained Pastor take a long rest every 7 years of their ministry. Some congregations cut that requirement to 5 years and others are not that meticulous about the timing; they just know that eventually, their Pastor needs some time away. Our emotional lives are fragile and become more so when we don’t allow time to rest and regroup from the stresses of life. Our spirits weary and that makes us emotionally and spiritually fragile. We all keep going at break-neck speeds, rarely slowing down long enough to be refreshed.
I was ordained in 1997. I took my first sabbatical in 2009 and I will take another one this year, 2017. My upcoming sabbatical will be a three-month period when I will focus on my life, my health, my marriage and well-being. I will study, travel, read, rest, rejuvenate, re-acquaint myself with my husband and ready my heart and life for the vigorous ministry at ELC when I come home. August 6 will be my last Sunday at ELC until I return November 12 after my 3 months of time away. Between August and November, I will have the privilege to spend time in Europe studying Reformers such as Calvin, Zwingli and Luther. I will spend time on a Pacific Island. I will take about 40 people from ELC back to Germany to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation of the Church. And, I will find time to be quiet and perhaps take naps without fighting tooth and nail.
Mark 6:31 highlights the fact that even Jesus Himself found it important to get away for a while, to slow down and cease activity. The Bible records this event, “Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest’” (NIV). Jesus urged His disciples
to get to a quiet place. In doing so they would find rest. Being alone and quiet would restore their weary spirits.
All of us work hard. I am not the only one who deserves a break. I am, however, the one whose “call” says that I am privileged to get one. The work that Jesus and his disciples did was taxing; 24/7 kind of work as they tended to the varied
and desperate needs of people. It wearied them. Such work has wearied me, too, although I rarely slow down, I know I need a bit of a break. While I am away Pastor Ron Roschke, now retired but previously an Assistant to the Bishop of the Rocky Mountain Synod and a parish minister prior to that, will take good care of your needs. I trust him and love him and I know he will serve you well. I am so grateful to be able to take a sabbatical. Thank you…thank you…thank you for your kindness and generosity.