As many of you are aware, I am currently spending time on renewal leave. This means that I am taking a few weeks away from my normal preaching and church leadership duties to study, reflect, plan, and relax as I ask for God’s Holy Spirit to recharge my batteries. I am very grateful that our United Methodist Church provides this opportunity for all full-time pastors every six years. It is good for the churches and the pastors to step aside long enough to get some perspective on God’s guidance of the ministry journey.
What I have discovered, or rediscovered, is my gratitude for the calling to serve as a pastor in the United Methodist Church. I have attended a different worship service each week of this renewal leave, and this past Sunday I worshipped at Lakewood UMC in Jacksonville. It was wonderful to see people whom I grew to know and love during my three years at that church.
The pastoral calling is sacred because I get to share life with God’s people through the most challenging, and the most joyful, seasons of their lives. Each person I encountered Sunday was a living reminder of how God guided that person through life’s adventures and heartaches. It is so important that we pause and celebrate God’s presence in our lives because this is how our faith is strengthened.
As I continue this time of renewal, I am working on a sermon series on how we understand having the heart of Christ formed in us. The New Testament book of Galatians will be the source for this series, which will begin July 4. Thank you for your ongoing prayers!
Worship this coming Sunday includes Rev. Pam McMillian sharing a message. She is an ordained elder in the UMC who currently serves as Director of Community Outreach for St. Francis Hospice. Pam recently spoke to our Stephen Ministers, and I know she is an energetic, inspiring speaker. You are in for a treat!
May God continue to bless you and I look forward to seeing you soon!
In Christ’s love, Steve Hart