Pastoral Note from Jenny

Dear friends,

A friendly reminder: “doing your best” does not mean

working yourself to the point of a mental breakdown. (Source unknown)

Perhaps the “new normal” is starting to settle in for some of us now? Maybe the frenetic activity is slowing down? Or maybe we don’t notice that happening for us yet? I think something that I am learning – again – is that it’s ok to feel confused and overwhelmed. It’s ok for my feet to be paddling furiously underwater whilst on top of the water it looks like I’m gliding gracefully. And I am aware that you might be feeling pretty much the same.

Certainly, the pace over the last several weeks has been frenetic. Whether we have been trying to navigate a new way of offering worship when people cannot gather together in a physical space, or frantically updating contact lists to make sure no one is left out, or been forced into a crash-course of new technology, or simply trying to keep up with the avalanche of communications from many different sources, each of us seems to be ‘busier than ever’ at the moment. And we can maintain that for a while. A short while! I’m also very sure that if we were speaking to someone under our oversight, we would be telling them that such a pace is not good for us over a longer time span. We would want them to be identifying ways they can manage the workload, and provide some time for the Sabbath rest that is so important.

We recall the following words from Exodus 20:8-10a (NRSV): “Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy. Six days you shall labour and do all your work. But the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God.”

I invite you to spend a bit of time in the coming days to reflect on a plan you can implement to look after yourself in this strange season. In fact, I strongly encourage you to do this! As physical distancing rules mean our movement is restricted and we are caught up in our homes, what things can we do to look after our health – mental, emotional, physical and spiritual? As we settle in for the long haul, however long it might be, it seems important that we start planning now what we can do for self-care, how we might implement sabbath rest – even if the plan needs to change from time to time. I also encourage you to share your plan with your Supervisor, or mentor or trusted friend. Would you be willing to allow someone else to hold you accountable for following your self-care plan? (And Ministry Agents, this is a really good time to make sure you connect with someone if you happen to be ‘between Supervisors’.)

About 3 years ago I was privileged to sit at the feet of a friend as he was leading a devotion based on 2 Corinthians 12, with a focus on verse 9 (in which the Lord responds to Paul’s plea with the words, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness”). The words my friend said have stuck with me ever since as he paraphrased that verse: “I’ve got you in this” – God.  

I pray that these words hold and comfort you in these busy and often confusing times. It’s ok to hit ‘pause’ and take a rest. In fact, it is a God-given commandment! God has got you in this. And our God will not let you go.

Blessings and peace,