January 8th is a week away and we can begin worshipping together again! I hope the two weeks away have rekindled your love of our church and you’ll enter this new year ready to make a difference. I have certainly missed being with you as the People of God, formed in the crucible of Grace and Mercy and the proclamation of God’s Good News.
As many of you know, I took retreat in Barcelona for a week where I ducked into ancient churches (like the Cathedral of Barcelona and Santa Maria del Mar) and a “new” church, begun in 1882 by the architect, Antonio Gaudi, La Sagrada Familia. I lit a few candles, said prayers and otherwise pondered my life within the light and quiet of these sacred places. I commend our church leadership for its unwavering commitment to the pastoral office and the need for pastors to have not just down time, but time held in the suspension of sacred duties in order to be renewed. Not every church makes that kind of commitment. That annual line item in the budget that secures a means by which I can retreat and renew is a significant affirmation and I am deeply grateful. Clergy burn out (as do others in other professions). There are, sadly, those congregants and churches that begrudge their pastors time away and needless to say even more who, while they may embrace the idea, will not financially support it. Riverside is not one of those churches. ”Pastoral care” then is a two-way street. Pastors who have congregations that care for them can, in turn, provide pastoral care.
While I did not have the chance on this first day of the new year and the first Sunday of 2017 to worship with you, I did worship at a sister church in SW, St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church which, as you likely know, completed their development project and moved into their new sanctuary in November. It is a space filled with light and the homilist this morning, Rev. Martin Smith, delivered a wonderful sermon. Congratulations to our friends at St. Augustine’s, our prayers are with St. Matthew Lutheran Church as they have broken ground for their development and new church and may the God who makes all things new, renew us! SEE YOU SUNDAY~ PSTR