Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Advance Prep

This week, tomorrow actually, I am going to Chicago for a week to a relative's wedding. I am honored to go, even more honored to perform the ceremony. Getting ready to go, on the other hand, has been a challenge. Part of the challenge is that when I return, I am here for a few days, then go again for three weeks. That, for those not actually counting, is four weeks of missing church - but four weeks of having to prepare. It has been a marathon and I am very tired. I am reminded of my first, but not last, triathlon last Saturday.

In June I was asked to be the swimming component of Team Gustafson - three clergy women out for fun. Some part of me really wanted to be in this competition, so I agreed and trained. I was unsure about the swimming distance so trained to swim more than twice as far as necessary. Good for me; good for my arms and legs. When I was asked to submit my time, I offered the time I was swimming in an Olympic pool. Turns out the competition pool is quite a bit smaller so I was placed toward the end of the 370+ entrants. Too late to change, I realized my mistake. I was in the line with the non-swimmers or the barely swimmers - people who bike or run but are challenged at the swimming part. Many 30-40 year olds! What I remember most about the swim is that first, people where yelling my name when I came up for air (THANKS Y'ALL) and second, the swimmer I wanted to pass was set on remaining in front of me. Each time I signaled I would pass, he frog-kicked me out of the way. Not very fair. I did finally pass him, swimming twice as fast to get by. I made it out of the water, ran to the transition area, passed the magnet to the biker and still managed to be standing. (Almost forgot: my time was respectable.)

So how does this experience remind me of vacation from church? In this small new church plant, we have no administrative help, so, wanting an informative bulletin, I fill it with news and information, then type and print it. With four supply pastors coming, I have prepared four weeks of bulletins including appropriate hymns, have arranged worship leaders to help the pastors, even as I have tried to keep up with regular work. I am relating, not complaining. Just exhausted! Church planting consumes much energy even before I double the work load.

The lessons learned? Next year, I will give a more realistic time for the swimming component of the clergy team. And next year, I will take vacations in two-week increments.

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