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  • Writer's picturePastor Gen

Pastor Gen - Final Thoughts from a Sabbatical

selfie of Pastor Gen inside an elevator. she is wearing a medical mask, a light-colored short-sleeved shirt and dark shorts. She has a camera on a cross-body strap and is holding her cell phone to take the photo. The elevator does not appear to have any buttons to select a floor or open/close the doors.
Elevator stuck on the 19th floor — notice, no buttons to choose floors.

Dear Veradale Friends,

It’s the last day of our sabbatical. I look forward to hearing from you how ,with the help of the Holy Spirit and Pastor Roger, you have come to know more about the seeds of our communities strengthens for our mission as a community of faith.

The gallery I have for you this week is filled with pictures from my iPhone. Sometimes these were pictures to send back to Henry and Hana. Sometimes they were pictures taken because people would ask if we could get a “selfie” together. Many times they were pictures taken because I needed the extra wide angle lens that is on our phones.

Thoughts and Reflections

During this sabbatical, I have faced some of my fears and learned a lot. One of those fears is captured in the picture at the top of this letter.

That was me stuck in the elevator on the 19th floor of the government building where the press met for the World Council of Churches. It was the day before the conference began and I was wandering the route for the journalists. The elevator in the photo had only a button to open the doors, another to close the doors, and one to sound the alarm. The needed floor had to be entered into a console which would be followed by an elevator door opening to take the person to the desired destination.

In the picture, I was on the 19th floor and the doors would not open. The note on the wall said to press the alarm for 3 seconds and someone would answer. I did that. No one answered. I waited and tried again. No one answered. I did this a couple more times. It sounded like someone was trying to answer. So, I waited more. Nothing. I pressed again. Nothing. I determined that this was taking too long so I would just press the alarm button until someone finally talked to me. That worked. They would send someone in 5 minutes and asked that I not press the alarm again. Okay. In about 5 minutes a man was outside the doors. He could not do the repair but would wait with me until the technician arrived. He said that would be in another 5 minutes. In about 3 minutes I asked if the guy was still there. Yes, he was. Okay. The repair person arrived and said he would have me out in 5 minutes (I have no idea why everything was 5 minutes). When he started working, the elevator dropped to the 7th floor. Yes, that was dropped and bounced. Then up to 15. Down to 6. Up to 8, down to 2 — bouncing each time. I just wanted the door to open on any floor. It went down to the ground floor and the doors opened. I was out of there. I told the woman waiting for an elevator not to take that one because it was crazy.

I wrote the director of the press conferences to let her know what happened and to ask if we had to be at the meetings on the 19th floor in person. She said that we could go remotely for most things but not all. It wasn’t long before I had to go back to the 19th floor. The only consolation was that there were more people in the building.

If learning means being challenged and facing experiences that are outside one’s comfort zone, well, then I have learned more than I could have guessed. What about you, dear church? How has this sabbatical experience been surprising, challenging, or inspiring?

In the parable of the Sower and the Seed in Matthew 13:1-9, we understand the seeds to symbolize the message of Jesus and the soil to be us. What if we hear the sower as ourselves and the seeds are our strengths, ideas, hopes, faith, dreams, relationships, and endeavors as we practice this way of Jesus? This sabbatical has been a time to reflect on those kind of seeds. Some seeds (strengths, ideas, hopes, faith, dreams, relationships and endeavors) have grown. Some have fallen where the environment wasn’t ready for them. Some new seeds ( strengths, ideas, hopes, faith dreams, relationships and endeavors) have been found or rediscovered. Frequently, we are afraid to try something because we are afraid that something may go wrong. If we remember the sower, there is a confidence that with continued scattering of seeds, sure, some won’t work out but it is worth it to keep trying for the ones that do grow.

Well, while metaphors are limited, I look forward to learning more about what you have found out about the seeds of strengths for our shared ministry. Are there fears that still need to be faced?

May we gather soon to share some of what we have each experienced!

With blessings,

Pastor Gen

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