I INTENDED PUBLISH THIS NEW YEAR’S EVE BUT WAS STILL TRAVELING AND FORGOT TO POST – BETTER LATE THAN NOT, I HOPE. – STEVE
|Caleb Jay-16 days old and Grandpa Dunn|
I am writing this early on New Year’s Eve Eve. I will be on the road New Year’s Eve returning from visiting two of my children, three of my grandchildren – especially my new grandson Caleb. New Year’s Eve I will be helping at a youth lock-in at my church in Landisville called A Night to Worship, an incredible phenomenon where dozens of kids will spend hours in prayer, silence, then worship and reflection–drawing close to God as the old year draws to a close. I hope to catch a little sleep before I have to preach to the rest of my congregation at 10:00 am New Year’s Day (we only have one worship service on this particular Sunday to give my staff and our worship volunteers a bit of a break).
Many people have been spending some time reflecting on the year that is about to end and the new one that is about to dawn. Some of are even making resolutions–personal goals, hoping to correct what needs to be corrected from the past or to finally achieve what remains unaccomplished. Some will be quite ambitious and those resolutions will more resemble revolutions. (Which reminds me of a quote from a friend named Justin Meier, “Everyone wants a revolution, but no one wants to do the dishes.”)
I have long since ceased making resolutions. Most of the time they were unrealized, coming unraveled soon after the detachment of the holidays turned into the responsibilities of real life. (As one of my favorite authors Tim Hansel once wrote, “The problem with life is that it is so daily.“)
What I look for more in a new year is to see the rhythm that will be required to live it in a healthy and fruitful manner. Life has its seasons, as I am beginning discover as I approach my sixty-first year and actually begin contemplating how to finish well in my calling as a pastor. Those seasons cannot be lived without regard to the requirements and the boundaries imposed upon us by those seasons. I mean, it’s really hard go surfing in the winter if you live in a place where the snow sometimes accumulates as many as a dozen inches in a few hours. It is pretty much an exercise in futility to try planting a garden in January in Pennsylvania unless you’re going to do it indoors.
Seasons require rhythms of living. In a few weeks I will begin a sabbatical, a season I have not experienced in several decades. I hope to develop a healthier pattern of exercise, rest, diet and study for spiritual formation than were possible in the hustle and bustle of a church at Christmas time — and in a church period, where you are on call so often that your work resembles triage more than heart surgery. It will also be a season where I can be more attentive to God speaking to me without my having to translate it into operational plans for the church–and to learn to communicate with persons who will see me simply as a fellow spiritual sojourner than as their Pastor. This season won’t last long, but I am hoping it will reveal some truths about who I am as a person in Christ, so that I find a better rhythm for living when I return to the front lines of serving Him in a local church as its Lead Pastor.
Most people don’t know that my alter ego is sometimes best identified by A.A. Milnes’ character Tigger. Partially because a whole lot of the bounce and spirit of adventure has leaked out of my life, and along with it some of my passion for God. So, I see this season as sort of an adventure upon which I have most people’s permission to embark.
Now I just need to allow myself to embrace a rhythm of adventure.