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Homecoming

by The Rev Beth Knowlton on September 07, 2022

“O God, because without you we are not able to please you, mercifully grant that your Holy Spirit may in all things direct and rule our hearts; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.” Collect for Proper 19C
 
I have returned from sabbatical as of yesterday and begun the work of reorientation and catching up. I’m so grateful for the time I had away, and deeply grateful and excited to be back. Words cannot capture my gratitude for all the hard work of the staff and our lay leaders these past months that made my deep rest possible. I’ve also heard wonderful reports of your sabbatical activities and look forward to hearing more about those!
 
My time was enriching, and I look forward to sharing stories with you in the months to come. Overall it went very well, with one obvious disappointment. I was not able to go to the Galapagos Islands because at the last minute I tested positive for COVID and ended up in quarantine in Ecuador before coming home. I will be able to reschedule the trip next summer, but it was a good reminder of how very attached to a plan we can become, and how we wrestle against it when it doesn’t go our way.
 
One of things I’m most grateful for was a recommitment to my prayer practices. During my extended month at Green Bough House of Prayer, I found my rhythm of praying the offices, doing centering prayer, and added reading a portion of my rule of life each day. It’s not a new lesson, but one I always come back around to again and again. The hardest spiritual disinclines are simple but rarely easy. The collect for this Sunday reminds us that we wish to be directed by the Holy Spirit so our hearts are ruled in that way. The only way I know to make that happen is to stop long enough to listen and engage with scripture as a conversation partner.
 
I am delighted with all that is coming up in this program year. I’m especially excited to reclaim our building in full and welcome new staff. We are in a great place to recommit, reconnect, and live fully into our call here at St. Mark’s. For that to fully happen, of course, we need you! This Sunday we return to our full worship schedule with a festive reception between the 9 and 11:15 services. And we have a fun picnic planned at the Bishop Jones Center from 4 to 6 pm. I hope to see you and can’t wait to catch up with you. I’ll also beg your patience with me as I catch up, especially with pastoral matters. A lot has happened! I’m looking forward to the visits that will happen in the coming weeks and hearing how you have been during my time away.

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