Real Rest

“Jesus said, ‘Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you.  Let me teach you, because I am humble
and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”
(Matthew 11:28-30, The Message)

spiritual-restIt was mid-May when I received a first call from my District Superintendent, informing me of a probable pastoral re-appointment.  A few years ago, after almost twenty years of serving congregations – small, medium, and large – as pastor, I confessed that I’d never really taken the time necessary for real rest and renewal…for plain relaxation and fun.  And so, 2015 was to have been the year for taking that nice vacation I’d kept postponing for years; this was to have been the year for “exhaling”, for taking time to complete the long unfinished book manuscript now stored on a dusty thumb drive.  2015 was to be the year for deeper reflection and for allowing my soul to quietly bask and rejoice in my journey…in my ongoing journey with Jesus.   But an unexpected abundance of special local church and NIC events, of ecumenical cluster meetings and community organizations’ affairs, along with continuing visits and prayers on behalf of critically ill church Family members in hospice care, in addition to added efforts to resolve a most resilient city water bill issue all came together to ensure little-to-no time for even getting most things done.

It was mid-May when I received a first call about a probable pastoral re-appointment and as I examined my calendar – already filled with upcoming events through November – I simply couldn’t see how I’d possibly find either the time or energy needed for attending to every necessary task!  How could I hope to add bringing adequate closure to one longtime pastoral adventure, relocate office and parsonage, while also discerning how God would have me begin and go forth in what would be an utterly new place?  I quickly, resolutely sought the answer(s) I needed, until I finally chose to simply cease my struggling and “be still” in the presence of my Savior and best Friend.

As Jesus spoke to yet another gathered crowd, he refused to mince words when addressing the matter of the bone-deep weariness many of us so often feel in the course of our daily living.  Our culture isn’t geared toward rest.  And even in the church we find little wrong with cramming our Sundays with meetings and other sessions because of other weekday commitments.  The wonder of simple worship and rest on the Sabbath is blithely forfeited as we strive for accomplishing too much.  When Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest,” He wasn’t simply speaking about physical tiredness.  Jesus was speaking about the physical, mental and spiritual fatigue resulting from trying to “do the right thing to please God” – by struggling and striving as if attending to our varied tasks somehow earns us true salvation.  Our help, our real rest, our true salvation comes from trusting God’s promises, power and grace to make our way and take us from strength to strength!  Real rest isn’t a blessing we can earn, but must merely receive from the One who knows and cares and provides.

In these coming weeks, I’ll be sharing how the Spirit of the Lord is leading me as pastor of this faith community.  What I can now share is my desire to see a Prayer Ministry, a lay-driven Pastoral Care Ministry, and a Cancer Care Ministry developed and flourishing at TUMC; if you’re interested in any of these ministries, please contact me at colleennorman8712@comcast.net.  Also, our Minister of Christian Education, Jacki Bogolia, will be encouraging your participation in the newest United Methodist Disciple Bible Study.  Additional information about this special opportunity will be provided as one of Sunday’s announcements.  You should also know that, as the 2015 Annual Church/Charge Conference – scheduled in the afternoon of Sunday, November 15th  — I’ll be in conversation with our current church leadership team members and with the other Nominations & Leadership Development team members in devising the “Church Leadership Team” nominees as we move into 2016.  Interested in serving as part of the church’s ministry in some way?  I invite you to be in touch with me!

Real rest?  Thankfully and by my God’s grace, I’m finding it!  May we keep one another and the ministry to which our Lord is calling us in our fervent prayers.

Peace & Grace,
Rev. Colleen M. Norman
Pastor

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