Friday, December 13, 2013

…and they're off!

I will not be posting a sermon this week as I will be away with our Vestry for our annual retreat at the Valle Crucis Conference Center. My thanks to the Rev. Jane Smith for supplying for me while I am away. 

Every year our vestry goes away for a planning retreat, beginning on Friday evening and ending on Sunday morning. Both vestry members who actively served in 2013 and those new vestry members who will begin their terms in January 2014 are invited to attend. We get to know one another and we get to dream and plan for the future of St. John's.

This year Mahan Siler will again be our facilitator. He really helped us last year as we planned for my sabbatical and prepared for the possibility of my being elected Bishop. I wasn't elected but had I been, St. John's would have had a plan and moved forward without pause. 

This year there is no sabbatical or bishop election so we will focus our thinking on "What's next?" What's next for St. John's? Where do we want to go and who do we want to be by the end of 2014?
What projects do we want to accomplish? What goals do we want to set for ourselves? What will help us worship joyfully? What will inspire us to do Christ's work in the world? How can we be better stewards of our resources?

Friday and Saturday are spent looking to the future and developing a plan for how we will implement our dreams. On Sunday morning we will worship together with each vestry member taking part of "preaching" the sermon for Advent 3. Our worship connects us to the worship which is happening back home at St. John's. After worship we have our regular vestry meeting, wrapping up details for the year.

The retreat closes with lunch together. (I know some prayers have already been said hoping for fried chicken!) After lunch we wind our way back down the mountain, filled with dreams and hopes and the love of God and excited to share with the congregation.

Time away, either on our own personal retreat or shared with a group for planning, is so helpful. It is good to step away from the day to day--both day to day schedules and day to day environments--and intentionally ponder, pray and plan in God's holy presence.

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