During the Summer months, our church is sending Pastor Katie on a 3 month Sabbatical. She has been with us for 7 1/2 years and needs time away to work on her relationship with God, to listen, and to rest. Just as we are encouraged to keep the Sabbath holy, she also instructed to take Sabbath time for herself. While on Sabbatical, Pastor Katie will be spending time with her family, attending a retreat with her husband, diving into studies on addiction and spirituality (her interest), and meeting with a spiritual director and clergy coach. She will also be helping her daughter move to college. While she is gone, will you pray for her?
The church will also be on a sabbatical from “normal” activities. This Summer, the church will have the opportunity to hear a number of voices in the pulpit, sharing stories that resonate with the beauty of God’s creation and that call the congregation into renewal as God creates new life in each member of the church. Don Loving, the teaching elder at First Presbyterian Church of Milan, will be on call all summer to help with pastoral care needs so that no one gets overlooked during this “different” time.
Finally, the church will have the opportunity to go on three trips that are designed to help the church members discover God’s creation and grow closer to one another and to God. Call the church office, 447-2004, to sign up for each trip. All ages and abilities are invited to join in these opportunities for spiritual growth and fellowship.
June 25: Schedel Gardens following worship
July 22: Back to the Wild
August 20: Trip to Lakeside for worship and fellowship
Reflections from Pastor Katie
A few years ago I was struggling to get even one pound off. I knew what I needed to do. Everyone told me that I needed to eat right and exercise. I was a member of the YMCA, but I was a lousy member. When I went, I felt good, but those times were few and far between. I am not really a “classes” type of YMCA member because I get embarrassed by how I look compared to all of the others who love classes so much they have better bodies than I do – not to mention they all knew each other and I didn’t want to be the new girl. I knew that what I needed more than anything was accountability. I needed someone to miss me when I didn’t show up. I needed someone who cared about my health enough to seek me out if I went missing for awhile. So I finally got up the nerve to talk to one of the trainers out there to tell her what I needed. She was a wonderful, caring individual, and she heard what I wanted. But she wanted me to come to her classes, which, again, I was too self-conscious to do. So I never found my way in. And because I wasn’t missed and I had no one who cared about my health, I dropped my membership.
Shortly after I dropped my membership, my doctor decided to take interest in me. She recognized the metabolic issue that was treatable, but she still told me I had to eat right and exercise. And she held me accountable, making sure I came back to her every 1-3 months to confess what I was doing right and what I was doing wrong. Sometimes I did what I was supposed to and sometimes I didn’t, but she didn’t give up on me. And that fact alone convinced me I needed to try to care about my health.
After the baby was born I didn’t want to lose the momentum I had gained before my pregnancy, so I immediately made an appointment with my doctor again, and she welcomed me back with open arms, giving me new directions with my new baby body, and encouraging me along the way. But I still knew I wouldn’t eat right or exercise without ongoing accountability, and not knowing where else to turn, I tried something a bit out of the norm. I texted my doctor the following message, “I just took a 1 mile walk. It’s your turn.” After she figured out who was texting her (she had given me her number in the past), she returned my text with the following, “I just ran a mile and did 20 crunches, 30 squats, and 25 lunges. Your turn.” I had my accountability partner.
I share this story because in the church there are a lot of us who know exactly what we need in order to grow in our faith – we need to meet with others to study the scriptures, we need to spend time in daily prayer, and we need to worship God with a community that wants to do the same. Some of us easily fit the “class type” and we like to gather with other people who have been in the church for a long time and who seem to know a lot about the Bible and the Christian faith. But the majority of us, despite what we know we need, lack the confidence to show up at a class or even in worship on Sunday morning, for fear that we will be “noticed” too much, and not in a good way. We fear we will stand out because we don’t know a specific biblical story or because we haven’t been baptized or because we feel that we think just a little bit differently than other people. We fear that someone will ask us to pray out loud and we don’t really know how to do that. We fear that we will have to find something in the Bible and we take a long time to find the passage. So we just don’t show up. But in truth we really want to be there. We want to get spiritually healthy. And we want someone to notice when we don’t show up. We want to matter.
It’s a big deal to start being involved in a church. It’s also a big deal to resume being involved in a church. Some of us come with huge weights on our shoulders – maybe we hurt someone and just don’t want to come back to the place where we have to face that so that healing can begin. Maybe our feelings were hurt by someone in the church who didn’t understand how hard it was for us to put ourselves out there the first time. Maybe we’ve never been to church before in our lives and don’t even know what we’re supposed to do.Or maybe, just like me and the YMCA, we just need to know that we matter enough for someone to check on us, to notice we aren’t here, to care about our spiritual life as much as we want to care about it.
It’s an above-and-beyond-job not only to notice when someone doesn’t come, but also to follow up with them. It wasn’t the YMCA’s job to check on me, but because they didn’t, I, in my self-conscious state, didn’t feel that my health mattered to them. It wasn’t my doctor’s job to text me back with her own exercise routine, but because she did, I immediately felt that my health (and therefore “I”) mattered to her.
I urge each one of us to care about our own spiritual health and about the spiritual health of others who may or may not be associated with this church because we all matter to God. Who will you call this week? Who have you missed? It’s not your job to check on people or even to welcome them when they show up, but it has the potential to communicate that their spiritual health matters to you . . . and that they matter to you. It’s time consuming. And it may even seem unnecessary to those who are regulars in the church (because they have a responsibility to show up themselves! I shouldn’t have to hold their hand!), but ultimately, hand-holding may be what they need, just as it’s what we need at other times in our lives.
I hope that I can share as generously with you as my doctor has shared with me. I do care about your spiritual health, and I do care about you. Let me know if you need some accountability. It would be my honor to be accountable with you.
In Christ’s love.