For the Long Haul

For the Long Haul

We are over 8 weeks into our pandemic requirements to Stay Home and Stay Safe.  There is an often-used phrase: this is a marathon not a sprint.  However, you have been sprinting.  And sprinting.

So, take a breath.   
Right now.   
Do it again.   
Notice where (or if) you sense the presence of God in this moment.   
You’ve been learning and expanding your use of technology for worship and meetings and pastoral care.   
You’ve been preacher and tech staff, often the same person at the same time.   
You’ve been exhaustively creative and adaptive. 
You adapted all of this to the intensity of Holy Week and, now, beyond.   
You’ve been watching news updates and guidelines from government and health care professionals.   
You’ve been holding in your spirits the complicated and multilayered stories of grief and anxiety from the news to the community to the congregation, including your own.   
You’ve received a flood of information and advice and support and guidelines; like that proverbial drink from a firehose.   
You’ve tried to assess and strategize and adapt.   
You’re doing home schooling. 
You’re either longing for alone time or seeking an end to it.   
You’ve stared at a screen for too many hours each day and each week.  Maybe with those new glasses that reduce eye strain.   
Crocus have turned to daffodils and to tulips.  Spring birds have arrived to sing their songs.  Trees have leafed out.  And it still keeps snowing.   
And that has a cumulative impact on you: our clergy and church leaders.   
We’ve watched the exhaustion in your comments, your posts, and your eyes.   
This article, from my colleague Mary Day Miller of the American Baptist church gives wonderful insight and advice on this:  As churches consider reopening buildings and resuming in-person worship, what can pastors expect?
Jesus, as we have often noted and sometimes preached, had a wisdom to pace himself.  He took those times away for rest that renewed him in body and soul.   
We are asking that of our churches: to provide a sabbath rest, particularly to their staff who have been running on adrenaline for far too long.  This pandemic is not going away soon.  Even as the world phases into its strategies to open, enter or move forward.  The sprint needs to be paced into a marathon.   

We need you for the long haul.  

We are asking our churches to give their staff 3 consecutive days offincluding a Sunday, between now and the end of June.  This is not vacation time.  It is in addition to paid time off.  It is the pacing and renewing that is needed for that long haul.  Consider this for your equally exhausted church leadership as well.  

And for those who are working in non parish settings (chaplaincies, specialized ministries, and others) we hope you can convey this to your supervisors.  You are often on the front lines of response.  This break is particularly crucial for your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual sustenance and renewal.  
There are some worship resources available and in development for the church to use.   

And you may even want to coordinate a digital ‘pulpit swap’ with a neighboring (or even long distance) church as a sort of mutual aid.  Partnering with other churches for worship and ministry is a growing trend we encourage.  The cross fertilization of ideas and perspectives is enhanced by the mutual support and resourcing.   
“Each person deserves a day away in which no problems are confronted, no solutions searched for. Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us.” —Maya Angelou 


Don H. Remick

Don Remick is Bridge Conference Minister.

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