I am leaving this morning, Saturday, for Ireland. I am so glad I gave myself a week to rest and unwind before departure. I went shopping for the trip. Thanks to a few Trinity members for suggesting I go to Costco for a wide brim hat–they had one hat in two colors which is the right amount of options for me. I went to REI to get trail snacks, more Smart Wool, and iodine tablets. I might have cried if I had had to choose from all of the hats there.
I have had fun remembering my trip to Lutherland last summer. I have been reading Stasiland: Stories from Behind the Berlin Wall, which I bought on the trip. After looking at piles of photos and travel memorabilia for seven months, I finally completed my Lutherland scrapbook! I also am up-to-date on my Nampa scrapbook, had stuff in another pile going back to summer 2017. It was kind of relaxing. I did not cut cute shapes or make nice backdrops for photos but I did get everything pasted into the books and added some commentary. That is a win for me.
The most surprising thing about the week was the lack of sermon preparation and what that did for my head. Even when I go on two-week vacation or continuing education trip I look ahead to what I will be preaching on when I return. You never know when inspiration will hit you. But looking at the texts for Oct. 13 seemed ridiculous. So I pulled out my doctor in ministry project bibliography. I downloaded all of my journal articles, thanks to access through the Graduate Theological Union Library, and then I went to the local library. I learned that I can have two interlibrary loan requests in at a time with the Nampa public library. The best lesson of the week is that as a resident of Idaho I can get a library card for Boise State University’s library, which has three books I need.
(Christa and me on Idaho Street)
(statue of former Idaho Governor Cecil D. Andrus, near the State Capitol)
The highlight of the week was catching up with a friend. Christa’s three weeks with her Boise family overlapped with my first week of sabbatical. Christa served as pastors of two local Methodist congregations when I was a few years into serving at Trinity. Now she is 20 months into a call serving a Nazarene (her home denomination) congregation in Nashville. We spent much of Wednesday in downtown Boise (on Idaho’s anniversary of statehood day) and most of Thursday in Nampa.
Who are the people I will travel with or visit between July 1-Oct. 7?
My companion in Ireland will be Joy Donathan. I met Joy my first month in Idaho, November 2010, at the ecumenical 20s-30s Bible Study (back when we were both in our 30s) held at Thomas Hammer Coffee. Joy was the lone Episcopalian and had worked for the Idaho Episcopal Diocese with Rev. Karen Hunter, who now serves Grace Episcopal Church, Nampa. In 2010, Joy was finishing earning her teaching certificate from BSU. She went on to teach math at Frank Church High School and North Junior High. After earning her master’s in education from Michigan State, program housed in Galway, Ireland, she pursued her dream of teaching overseas and moved to Abu Dhabi (UAE). That was two years ago. I think both of us would trace the nurturing of our friendship to five summers of attending the Idaho Shakespeare Festival together.
I will travel to Prince Edward Island with my childhood friend (we’re talking Custer Elementary and Sunday School at Custer Lutheran Fellowship) Jennifer Cerfogli and Jennifer’s oldest daughter/my goddaughter Celia, age 13. Jennifer and husband Frank also have twins Ann and Sofia and their youngest is Henry. Our friendship never would have faded but we were blessed during most of my time as a pastor in Iowa to live only 2.5 hours apart. Jennifer, a veterinarian, finished a fellowship in Oregon and came back to get another degree from Iowa State University, Ames. She served on the faculty there for many years but last fall she was hired by Texas A & M, College Station.
I will be staying with my parents, Linde and Jerry, in Custer, SD. I will spend time with my half-brother Steve and sister-in-law Peggy. For a few days, I will accompany Pastor Larry Peterson, an old family friend who has spent much of his life pastoring on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and has recently been the major driver behind founding the Woyatan Retreat Center in Rapid City, SD. Our lives first crossed professionally when Larry was serving on the South Dakota Synod Candidacy Committee. He conducted my entrance exam to candidacy at a picnic bench in Hill City, SD. Of interest to some Trinity members, he happens to be the brother of Ann Sansgaard, wife of Dick Sansgaard, who served as Trinity’s interim pastor before you called me. It can be a small Lutheran world.
My Sabbatical Task Force asked me to find or create a commissioning service for the end of worship my last Sunday before beginning the sabbatical journey. I went to the Facebook page for revgalblogpals and was thankful to find a post about such commissions by Cynthia J. Hallas, who shared hers with me. I inserted and adapted texts from the service of installation of church council members (from Evangelical Lutheran Worship) and from the Lilly Endowment’s resources. Notes on the service: Tammy and Steve are members of the Task Force and Vicar Mia has been our intern for eight months and will continue through the month of July.
Service of Commissioning for Sabbatical
Congregational parts in bold
Vicar Mia: People of God, by virtue of our baptism God calls us to mission and ministry, and to holy labor in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. At certain times, God also called us to occasions of sabbath rest and reflection so that we might be renewed for Christian service.
As we prepare to send Pastor Meggan forth on her sabbatical, we gather to ask God’s blessing upon her, and upon us as we ready ourselves for the weeks ahead.
Vicar Mia: God traces our journeys and resting places,
C: And is acquainted with all our ways.
Vicar Mia: God will preserve our going out and our coming in,
C: From this time forth and forevermore.
Vicar Mia: Let us pray. God of all wisdom send your blessing on our congregational community as we enter this time of our pastor’s sabbatical. Guide our leaders through challenges that may arise. Give to all of us discerning and prayerful hearts, spirits ready to understand and quick to forgive, ears to listen for your word, and voices to speak the truth. Make us bold to live out your Gospel as we seek to do your will. Amen.
Vicar Mia: Church Council Members, you have been chosen to seek to involve all members of this congregation in worship, learning, witness, service, and support, so that the mission of Christ is carried out in the congregation, in the wider church, in this community, and in the world. Will you continue to faithfully carry out the duties of the offices to which you have been called?
Council Members: We will, and we ask God to help us.
Tammy T: Pastor Meggan, are you ready to step away from the obligations of daily parish life and to engage in this period of sabbatical? Will you take time for reflection and renewal and rest in the life-giving experiences that await you?
Pr Meggan: I will, and I ask God to help me.
Tammy T: Members and friends of Trinity Lutheran Church, in this time of sabbatical, will you support your elected leaders, Vicar Mia, and Pastor John? Will you share in the mutual ministry that Christ has given to all who are baptized? Will you pray for them and for Pastor Meggan on her sabbatical journey?
C: We will, and we ask God to help us.
Leaders gather round for laying on of hands.
Steve V: God of all blessing, be with your servant Meggan as she undertakes her sabbatical journey. Grant her a holy departure from this community, safety in all her travels, rest and renewal for her spirit and body, and the joy of a grace-filled return. We ask these things in the name of the holy and undivided Trinity, one God. Amen.
Adapted from Cynthia J. Hallas’ Service of Commissioning for a Sabbatical 2001, ELW Occasional Services for Assembly, and 2019 Lilly Endowment National Clergy Renewal Program Guide.
The third annual Learning Peace: A Camp for Kids will take place in Nampa this July 22-25 at the Hispanic Cultural Center. This is a free camp for youth ages 6-13 with a special program for older teens this year, see below. I love how this event continues to grow and transform. Here are some changes coming this year:
Last year, each afternoon, our participants heard portions of “Tree of Peace,” a legend of the Iroquois League of Nations. So this year, for each of the Connecting with Nature sessions one morning, each age group will help plant trees at Lakeview Park with city of Nampa staff.
We are bringing back a dietician from St. Luke’s Medical Center who will teach mindful eating one morning during the Mindfulness lessons. She taught the first year and the kids loved the lesson.
Each afternoon we have special groups come and share with the entire group of kids. This year we will have a few new guests, including Hula Dancers, Shimi Tree (a Flamenco group), and Oyamel Folkloric Dancers. Birds of Prey will join us for the third year in a row.
Finally, we are adding Play for Peace this year. Here is an invitation to teenagers 14 or older from my colleague Rev. Karen Hunter:
It will be a fabulous four days!
July 2019 Newsletter Column
Dear Friends in Christ,
After a later Easter, an Easter Season full of John’s Gospel, and then the festival Sundays of Pentecost and Holy Trinity (more John), we get to spend the summer in the Gospel of Luke. The lectionary gospel texts for the month of July are rich in character development and tell us plenty about the Jesus we follow and what that following should look like. A nice coincidence in a summer in which we are emphasizing storytelling, you will hear three great stories: Jesus sending the 70, the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Jesus at his storytelling best), and Jesus’ visit to Mary and Martha. On July 27, the text from Luke is Jesus giving his followers the Lord’s Prayer, something we say each time we celebrate/remember/enact the story of the Last Supper. Pay attention to Luke’s storytelling and, in that third week, Jesus’ own storytelling. They are both masters. Crucial I think is that on all four Sundays, the scripture points beyond itself. It points us to God. These gospel texts are set alongside readings from the prophets. The readings start in the Book of Kings with the prophet Elisha confronting Naaman. The readings the following three weeks are from the book of Amos or Hosea. Listen for what the prophets reveal about the God we follow and what it means to follow and worship such a God. Your Sundays in July will be rich because they will be grounded in scripture, the narrative which we hold sacred. Dwell in the word richly friends. It is a gift that nurtures us, challenges us, confronts us, and can ultimately give life.