Like most pastors, the season of Lent and Holy Week dominates my time. Some colleagues were just saying how they get sick right after Easter every year.

It is a time that is all consuming. The part that I find both exilerating and draining is the emotional part. For those of us (pastors and people) who immerse themselves in the texts of the season, it is an emotional time. I, for one, am always so ready for Easter morning. For me the joy of the resurrection is quite real.

One friend says she always has an ‘Easter hangover.’

It is not always possible to pace yourself in the pastoral ministry. There are times and seasons in the life of the church where there are simply many tasks and responsibilities that demand attention. But, faithful folks know that even Jesus took time ‘apart’ from the crowds.

My Spiritual Director used to remind me to adhere to the rule: and hour a day, a day a month, and a week a year; away for spiritual refreshment. I am pretty good about the hour a day. My participation in a religious order (and the annual retreat) helps me keep the week a year. The day a month? Not so much.

There isn’t any reason why I don’t spend a day a month in prayer. I do have control of my calendar and with only a few exceptions could ‘schedule’ that retreat day.

So why don’t I? One reason is that I suspect that I’ve bought into that condition described by Weber in “The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism.” In our culture, there is no evidential production of this time. Another reason is perhaps more personal. Unless you are well self-differentiated, it is easy to get stuck in the concerns and needs of the parish.

Ironically, this periodic time apart has the power to resolve these very issues. I know this, and have known this. So I am resolving anew to schedule these days of prayerful sabbath.

Here at our church we are celebrating our 275th anniversary. It has been fun to look back over the events and leadership that has brought us this far. I am particularly intrigued by the pastors who have served this church. I am particularly amazed by 3 who each served this congregation for more than 30 years.

This reflection reminds me of how the nature of the pastoral ministry has changed over the decades, centuries even. It also reminds me that there are those solitaries whose work is prayer. I know all too well that to be about apostolic ministry can make this ‘work’ difficult.

I recently told someone that “I love the work” of ministry. I do. All of it. But to keep a fresh eye on the movement of the Spirit here requires an alertness that declines when I am weary. These times of prayer are not for me alone; indirectly, it is for others I serve with.  See, it isn’t purely rest.  It is intentionally resting in the presence of the Spirit.  It is about rejuvination, but it is also about careful listening.

I know that I am not telling you anything new. You know this. I know it too! So today I am going to get out my calendar, call the rector at a nearby retreat center, and get at it.

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