Vacation begins in 60 hours! Well, 54 hours really, ‘cause once I leave the church around noon on Sunday I’m pretty much done till I get back.
I am so excited about this vacation. Three days on a private, directed retreat in the foothills just below Sequoia National Park. Two days in a resort town on the Pacific Coast with a friend. And two days at home, getting all the stuff done that doesn’t get done most of the time. You know - stuff.
And today is my day off. So I’m trying to get all my vacation prep stuff done, and my usual day off stuff done, and maybe sneak in a nap or two. Because I am exhausted, and I really need this vacation week.
But I might maybe have to preach tonight at an anniversary event at one of the churches in town. Only if the scheduled preacher doesn’t show up. But still, what if something happens and he can’t be there? I need to have a sermon ready. And I need to be there anyway, ‘cause unity and ‘cause folks from my church are singing.
And no, I cannot use a sermon I’ve already used some other place and time. The thing about the Word of God is that it is particular to a time and a place and an audience. I’ve seen people do that whole “just use one I use all the time” thing and it generally isn’t pretty. Sometimes they forget to take out the parts that relate to the time and place they wrote it for. Sometimes it is just a generic message that doesn’t really speak to the reality of these people in this moment. A message written for a very (politically and theologically) liberal multi-ethnic congregation doesn’t fly in a moderate mostly white congregation or in a theologically conservative African American congregation.
Then there is the whole “what happened this week” stuff that cannot be ignored, even at an anniversary event. There were young people shot and killed this week for no apparent reason. People of color and especially women of color were elected in places where that has never happened before. If the recount goes his way, an African American man might soon be the governor of Florida. Florida!!! (For y’all who don’t know Florida, this is a seriously big deal.).
And there are wildfires - big, bad ones. Some of our town’s firefighters have gone to help with the one to our north. One of my clergy colleagues in Paradise lost her home, as did most of her church’s members. And their church is gone as well. Still lots of people in danger to the north and the south. Lots of praying happening. Rain, please? A deluge right on top of the fires would be nice. And maybe, no wind? Just until the fires are out and the people are safe.
Tomorrow I have to be on the road by 5 am in order to get to my required Anti-racism training on time - it’s a 3 hour drive. Three hours there, seven hours in training, three hours back, and up at 3 so I can prep for Sunday’s message and the Veteran’s Day prayer.
And the Cats are conspiring to keep me from accomplishing anything. Walking on the keyboard when I am trying to work. “Helping” me make my bed. Taking turns chasing each other off of my lap.
See, this is why I need vacation. So that my spirit may be refreshed in the mountains and at the ocean enabling me to better serve the folks in my valley. So that I can come back to all of this rested and renewed. So that I can face Thanksgiving and Advent and Longest Night and Christmas Eve with joy and anticipation instead of dread. (And when did we start talking about this time of year as “the dreaded holiday season” anyway? That’s just disturbing.)
So, it is almost vacation. But not quite. Not yet.