Maya’s Daily Message (January 12, 2022)

As I write this to you, Islington United Church community, I am preparing for my three-month sabbatical that begins Jan 24. The essence of sabbatical is rooted in the biblical practice of the Sabbath day described in the creation story. Jesus kept this practice when he took time in his ministry for renewal. He often went away to pray and reflect in silence and meditation “on mountain tops and by lakesides.” The daily practice of ministry can include the pressure of many tasks compressed into too few hours, leaving little opportunity for reflective, prayerful time. In the context of ministry, sabbatical time is for learning through reflection and revitalization. It is personal and individual in nature and may include study, spiritual retreat and rest.

Photo credit: Mary Beth Wallace

Because my “best laid plans” continue to change and I’m acknowledging that recovery is needed from the demands of leading during a pandemic, my sabbatical begins with an intentional pause – a pause from e-mail, a pause from congregational care, a pause from weekly worship preparation, a pause from leading and supervising the staff team, a pause from meetings, a pause from planning, a pause from Emergency Response Team involvement, a pause from responding, a pause from commitments beyond home and family. I have had to let go of travel and other plans.

It will now be a time to reset some healthy habits that have been neglected, reset rhythms that I have lost, and to recalibrate the ways I’m using my gifts in ministry. I will be engaging in some online writing courses, I will be exercising regularly, I will be freeing up time by limiting e-mail correspondence, I will be praying, I will be listening for God’s call for our ministry, I will be choosing wellness.

While I am gone, this ministry is in good hands of capable and committed lay leaders and a full staff team in the areas of communications, front-line welcome and administration, music ministry, faith formation, pastoral care, and operations. James Aitchison will be moving to full-time ministry hours for worship and pastoral care. The Ministry and Personnel Committee is responsible for supervision oversight and continues to offer staff support. Amy Crawford has been appointed to serve on behalf of the Shining Waters Regional Council as our Pastoral Charge Supervisor attending council meetings and providing sacramental and faith formation leadership. I am deeply grateful for all that has been put in place for me to take this sabbatical.

I hope my time away will invite you to reflect, too – recognizing how fatigue and weariness are affecting us all. This quote by Brooke Hampton spoke to me in preparation:

As we enter a season of recovery, it is my hope for all of us to recognize our need to rest in Christ’s light, to pause, renew and reset.

Things will be different because I am away and things will be different when I return because we will all have learned and changed. It is my intention when I return to reset how I allocate my time administratively to allow me to serve more creatively; I aim to seek clarity on our vision and mission and to be guided by these in my leadership. We will enter our next chapter of ministry together, recognizing how the community and neighbourhood we serve is changing and trusting God’s possibilities.

Rev. Maya