Thursday, May 23, 2013

in the spirit

Lutheran Church of our Savior Tampa
celebrates Pentecost with a flock of paper doves,
each one bearing the name of a church member.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Getting Away

"As often as possible Jesus withdrew
to out-of-the-way places
for prayer"                                        
— Luke 5:16

     For years, bishops and church leaders have recommended that congregations grant sabbaticals to their pastoral staff.  A sabbatical is an extended time of withdrawal from the regular routine of ministry meant to be taken every seven years.  Pastors use the time for prayer, study, rest and renewal.  As opposed to a vacation which is focused on recreation, a sabbatical is specifically spiritual in tone. 
      I am excited that this summer I am about to take my first sabbatical.  Especially in the wake of the recent building renovations and the launching of our capital campaign, I have a list of projects set aside because there has been no time to get to them.  Many of those projects require focused attention and preparation.  Some just require prayer and clear thinking, which is not so easy with the perpetual interruptions of running a parish.
     A pastor recently reminded me that even Jesus needed time away from his disciples and away from the crowds in order to pray and refresh himself.  As I get closer to my sabbatical, I’m feeling it more and more.  I want to thank this congregation for granting me this sabbatical time, and I’d like to share with you my basic plan for the next three months.
     GERMANY IN JUNE: As a good Lutheran of German heritage, I have always had an interest in going to Germany,.  Studying Martin Luther and the Reformation in seminary has made me a big Luther fan.  One of my personal goals is to read all 55 volumes of Luther’s writings that are available in English.  So far, I’ve read 12 of them.   When my brother proposed a family trip a few years ago, I didn’t really have the time or the money. With this sabbatical approaching, it was finally starting to look like a possibility.  Then Rick Will shared his photos from his own trip to Germany, including pictures of him standing by the famous Wittenberg chapel door where Luther posted the 95 theses.  Rick told me how proud he was to visit those Lutheran heritage sites, and encouraged me to go.  He advocated with the council and helped establish a sabbatical fund to help with costs.
So in June I will be spending 2 weeks in Germany, flying into Berlin with my brother Paul and son Brian (yes, Su and George preferred staying home).  We will be staying 3 nights in Wittenberg, followed by a night in Erfuhrt in the very monastery where Luther trained to become a monk.  In Wittenberg we’ll be attending the annual festival reenacting the wedding of Martin Luther and Katie von Bora.  The rest of our time will be focused on traveling around Munich, Salzburg, and Berlin.

      JULY OUT WEST: In the interest of a change of scenery for the whole family, we will be taking a road trip out west in July.  One goal is to visit my birth mother out in Los Angeles, and since Su and the boys have never been west of Texas, this will really be their first chance to explore this part of America.  Our route will take us through Yosemite, past the Grand Canyon, and through some places I’ve never seen before. 

      AUGUST PROJECTS: In August I expect to be closer to home, visiting area churches and developing ideas for a new Saturday service at Atonement.  I will also be studying, working with some new software, and developing a DVD-based Bible study for home use.
     As you can see, I expect to keep busy.  You can keep up with what I’m doing by checking in on this blog.  I want to thank you, and give special thanks to the tremendous team filling in for me, including our deacons (Suzi, Joe, Scott, Karen and Detlev), Marcia, Pastor Fred Agnir, and in August, Pastor Deborah Steed.  And I hope and pray that you too will be able to get away and be refreshed this summer.
Pastor Scott