Rest, Renewal and Prayer

Rest, Renewal and Prayer

Marching in the Pride Parade, I had the joyful opportunity to wave at the parade watchers as well as talk with parade marchers. It was a wonderful day and I’m so glad I could be there. I was so happy that we could be a public witness to the glorious truth that God’s love is for all of God’s children – no exceptions!

While waiting for us to begin marching, I spoke with a member of a church near my home who is hosting a retreat I’ll be leading next month. It’s so necessary for us to take some time out for rest, renewal and prayer. Every retreat I do, I read this one passage from Henri Nouwen. It’s found in his book entitled The Inner Voice of Love. Nouwen writes:

“God does not want you to destroy yourself. Exhaustion, burnout, and depression are not signs that you are doing God’s will. God is gentle and loving. God desires to give you a deep sense of safety and love. Once you have allowed yourself to experience that love fully, you will be better able to discern who you are being sent to in God’s name.”

A pastor and I were talking about ministry as we marched together, and how it can be overwhelming at times.  This pastor said wise words to me: “I decided a while ago not to allow the ministry to kill me.”

Wow . . . that has made me think – a lot! For pastors, church staff, bishop’s staff and volunteer church leaders, ministry can be overwhelming at times. There is so much to do; so many people in need, so many plans to make, meetings to attend, people to visit and call. It can seem never ending.

One of my favorite writers, an Episcopal priest named Barbara Brown Taylor, writes about this in her book Leaving Church.  She shares her reflection on what happened when she was a parish priest:

“I saw that my desire to draw as near to God as I could had backfired on me somehow. Drawn to care for hurt things, I had ended up a service provider. Drawn to marry the Divine Presence, I had ended up estranged.”

I encourage you to carve some time out of each day to sit down with God, perhaps read a Psalm or a book on spirituality and pray. I try to do this every morning. I also try to listen – which is hard for an extrovert! I sit there quietly and think about my day, and ask God to help me prioritize my day. (Note: this doesn’t mean I don’t get overwhelmed myself now and then!)

May you find renewal and refreshment for your body and spirit during this summertime as you take a bit of time to rest in God’s love for you.

In Christ’s Love,
Pr. Kathryn