Friday, December 13 2019
The days have gotten short, and it feels like all the light in the world has been snuffed out. As Christians, we spend Advent waiting and watching for Jesus. We remember that he was born to Mary, which we celebrate each year at Christmas, but we also watch for the mystery of it happening again, among us now. We watch for him to return in majesty. We see the light disappear bit by bit, knowing that it will return again, and when we welcome the light again, we will also welcome Christ.
In a way, we’re waiting in expectation like this as a parish as well...
....We look to this summer, when the roof of our worship space, which has leaked since the day it was completed, will be replaced. We look to a time when our beautiful church won’t have any more water stains, and everyone will be able to approach the altar, regardless of their ability on stairs. And we look to a time when our community is about to celebrate the tremendous accomplishment of renewing our church building, a task which has been dreaded by generations of St. John’s members.
As the light comes back into the world at Christmas, so it will grow in our parish, as we get closer and closer to seeing this dream become a reality. You’ll hear more about how we’re working to get there in this month’s edition of The Chronicle. Our Senior Warden Mark Hampton has written about all the incredible work your Vestry has done to get us to this point, and our Treasurer Bob LeRoy will talk about the budget he and our leaders have created, which was adopted at the December Vestry meeting.
The Vestry has also adopted a plan for me to take a sabbatical next summer, from June 1 – September 30. Sabbaticals are referenced in the Bible, but are better known from the world of academia these days. The Biblical sabbatical was every seventh year. In the Diocese of Olympia, the standard is not a year, but 3-6 months every five years. It’s a time of ceasing what you would normally do, so you can take up a new activity for a time, to enrich your vocation when you return to it.
I will be spending the first half of my sabbatical, all of June and July, studying Spanish by immersion at the Spanish Institute of Puebla. I will then travel with my family some, and then visit members of my clergy group before concluding my time with a pilgrimage to the ecumenical monastery at Taizé, France. You’ll be hearing a lot more about this sabbatical time in the coming months, as we prepare together for my time away. I know that this sort of opportunity a rare gift, and I am incredibly grateful to the entire congregation for the chance to do this.
Finally, I’m also making final preparations for having my left hip replaced on December 31. It has been bothering me since I first came to St. John’s, and January is usually slow enough at St. John’s that I felt it was a good time to get this addressed. I am grateful to my colleagues here at St. John’s who will keep everything running smoothly while I am recovering, and to my colleague, the Rev. Evan Clendenin, who will be the priest-in-charge until I return. I hope to be back on Sunday, February 2, but that will depend on how my healing is going.
I wish you an Advent of wonder, and a Christmastide of joy. Many happy returns of the season!