January 17, 2019
Rev Marie Buffaloe
Parish Associate Pastor of Congregational Life & Care
It was yet another Facebook posting in the busy week before Christmas. The picture was a near empty cup and the words said, “You can’t pour from an empty cup.” I knew that feeling as I was scrambling in late December to make visits, work on a variety of Christmas services, and complete year-end tasks with various committees. Whew! I was also rushing to write this article before leaving on vacation. I frequently feel like that juggler who is running to and fro trying to keep all those plates spinning.
However, I smiled as I thought, how grateful I am for the session and congregation of Derry. Last year the session passed a sabbatical policy that gives them permission to grant time for rest and renewal for eligible staff. It is a wonderful way of caring for and supporting the long-term staff to encourage our learning, spiritual renewal, and personal refreshment. It is also an opportunity to expand one’s understanding of an issue, a topic, and to return to share that knowledge and insight with the congregation.
I’ve just begun this gift of three-month sabbatical to spend some time in spiritual enrichment through a variety of experiences and studies. Following some vacation days, I will be on my sabbatical Jan 18-Feb.15, May 1-22, and September 3-30.
So, what am I doing? I’ve planned some reading and conversations to learn more about Islam and our how I/we might better partner with other neighbors in interfaith dialogues. I want to dedicate time for spiritual direction and to slow down with reflective, meditation practices. I’m in need of tutoring to improve my skills in technology to become more efficient and effective in communicating. These are things I seldom find time to focus on in my normal work schedule. I’m planning a trip to Greece to travel in the footsteps of Paul to enhance my appreciation of Paul’s New Testament writings. The gift of a sabbatical enables me to set aside my normal work demands for a season, to take a breath of rest, and to concentrate on areas of interest.
What happens while I’m away? Those spinning plates of church ministry will not only keep turning, but will be enhanced because of the gifts of our strong church leadership. Thanks to the Membership & Involvement committee who will continue their outreach of hospitality and welcome to visitors through our New Member Discovery Class that begins January 27. Thanks to John McGahan who is leading the Thursday morning Bible study and to Ron Holmes and Susan Kastelic, coordinators of our GriefShare support group. Tom Folts and others are leading our Tuesday Evening Praise & Worship service. Deacons and Shepherd Group leaders will be reaching out to respond to needs as they arise, and Pastor Stephen continues to preach and teach and provide pastoral care to the congregation.
As this New Year begins and with it my 22nd year serving as one of your pastors, I am excited about where and how God will continue to lead this congregation. Thanks for your ongoing prayers and support. I’m eager as I return in the coming months to share some of my learnings in Bible study and Issue classes in the future. Because of your generosity, my cup runneth over with spiritual refreshment.