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    From the Pastor

    Rev. Scott Crane

    Enjoying Summer...

    As much as I love to get away and shift out of my normal routine, it is often hard for me to let go of tasks. My wife knows well that I’m usually doing something up until the last minute before we go out of town and, sometimes, our departure is delayed beyond the time planned. I realize, though, that I am no different than many who have trouble in making a break from normal routines. It is necessary to learn to be pro-active in focusing on what is most important.

    Scripture notes that Jesus “went out to the mountain to pray, and he spent the night in prayer to God.” (Luke 6:12) It seemed that it was routine for Jesus to take time away from the daily busy-ness to pray, to re-focus, to be nourished and to hear God’s voice. If he needed this time away, it doesn’t take much to realize that it would be a good and proper thing for us, as followers of Christ, to find time for prayer and renewal as well.

    When I began in ministry, I served in upstate New York. The director of a camp, a good friend of mine, would plan a once-a-month for clergy Sabbath. Several of us would gather on a specified day and hike a mountain, go canoeing, or take an adventure with snowshoes. No phones were allowed on that day and the goal was to leave behind the tasks and the “doing” and just “be” – to be present with God and with one another.

    I still have fond memories of those days. One highlight was hiking up a mountain in the Lake Placid region just after the fall colors had peaked. We rested at the top, enjoying a 270 degree view of the vast beauty…with colorful mountains, rivers and lakes. And there was the time we went canoeing a little early in the Spring. We found ourselves, after a couple of bends in our journey, chipping away with oars at a layer of ice atop the running water.

    Over all the years, I valued those times of simply taking in the presence of God, fellowship of wonderful colleagues and talking about what was most important to me. There were no planned agendas other than to journey together and listen to God’s call on our hearts. Those days were wonderful times of renewal that I eagerly anticipated.

    There are times when I think that I need to start up that habit again. But, for whatever reason, it hasn’t happened yet. I suppose it is because, as I get older, I find the routines, even as busy as they might be, somewhat comfortable. And, as well, my sense of adventure is probably not what it once was.

    So…this summer, I’m going to try slow down a bit, to get away, to find time for my own clergy Sabbaths. I’m going to make intentional effort to step away to hear God and to refocus. I’m going to set some dates on my calendar to move away from the “doing” and plan outings that allow me to focus on “being.”

    Already planned is a five-day spiritual academy amid the Shenandoah Valley for late July. My wife and I are going to immerse ourselves, along with others, learning a bit about Celtic spirituality. The day will begin and end with prayer, recognizing God’s presence in the midst. Along with others participating, we will experience daily rhythms which are designed to help us hear God and to be nourished in our own callings.

    I’m looking forward to the time of departure. Yet, before we go, I must finish a few recommended readings. As well, I want to create some sense of order in my office and on my desk before I leave…sometimes it reminds me of how life can get out of hand when we are running here and there. Hopefully, amidst all my tasks and to-do list, I can find some new, healthy rhythms of being and doing.

    I hope and pray that you may find some time to get away, to leave behind normal routines and take a spiritual adventure this summer. It might be a week or two of travels, it might be a conference or workshop offering, or it might simply be some day trips to a few local places of interest. But, during the weeks left of summer, become young and adventurous again, and go exploring. As the old saying goes, “Take time to smell the roses.” Take time to reflect and wonder at the fullness of life that God created us to enjoy!

    Grace & Peace,
    Pastor Scott