Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Holy Interruptions

So last week's post was about establishing a daily life and work rhythm (see Finding my Rhythm). I had just posted it, was driving home and determined to live-out what I had just written, when my phone rang with the news that our colleague, Rev. Linda Jean Myers, had been brought to the ER as she was complaining of dizziness and shortness of breath. When I got to the hospital, she had already passed away. I spent the rest of the afternoon and late evening with her husband Ron and their older daughter Rachel.

I remember driving home that night trying to make sense of it all. I also recall thinking to myself, "There goes my rhythm. There goes my schedule for the rest of the week." I knew this concern took precedence over anything I had already planned to do. I now had to plan a memorial service and a sermon for that, provide pastoral care for the family and prepare another sermon for Sunday at Chugiak (Linda Jean's church) as well as provide pastoral care for them. This was in addition to a previously scheduled baptism and wedding I was going to do on Sunday and Monday. 

Now, don't get me wrong. I am NOT complaining. Surely no one had wished or even planned for this tragic event to happen. And I know that a great part of my new role is being a pastor to our pastors in the conference. And surely, the slight inconvenience of being thrown off my planned schedule pales in comparison to what Ron, Rachel and Rebekah are going through right now. I invite you to join me in continuing to hold the Myers family in your prayers. I also ask for prayers for the congregations that they serve: UMC of Chugiak and First UMC Anchorage.

I am not complaining but I am writing this as a rejoinder to my post about rhythms. Yes, we need to figure out our life rhythms and live by them. But we also need to be ready to respond to the unexpected events that come our way. Our rhythms need a certain level of flexibility to allow us to live in the moment.

Now I know that you task-oriented folks are squirming in your seats as you read this, shaking your heads and saying, "No way, Carlo. Have some focus." And I do. I understand schedules and deadlines and try as much as I can to keep them. But one of our calls is being able to respond to what each situation brings.

When I go for a run or participate in a race, I set goals for myself. While I am not in a race to win, I hold myself to personal goals like improving my time and my pace. Yet every run is different. Every trail and race course is different. And even a day on the same trail is different from the day before. While I can plan my goals and tempo, I never know what I'll get from the trail until I'm there. Sometimes there's rain. Sometimes snow. Sometimes there's a detour or an injured fellow runner. Sometimes there's a view to watch and take in. Sometimes, my shoelaces come loose. Sometimes there's even a moose! When I go out for a run, I never know what to expect. I just have to be ready to respond appropriately to these interruptions in the routine.

In the dedication page of his first book, "Jesus' Strategy for Social Transformation", retired Filipino UM Bishop Emerito Nacpil thanked his grandchildren for adding joy to his life. He called them "welcome and holy interruptions" while he was in the process of writing. 

Speaking of interruptions, as I wrote this blog, I've had to stop to talk with Pastor Janice from Kenai and meet her daughter and grandson. I've had to pause and congratulate Pastor Tafa on his recent graduation from Course of Study. I've had to speak with folks on the phone to answer questions and also to listen. And that’s ok. These are all "holy interuptions". They're all part of this race called life.

Jesus modeled this. While he stuck to a rhythm of life, he was willing to be interrupted by children, people in need, people with questions and people who wanted to talk.

May you be blessed with a routine and a rhythm of life to define your days. But may you also be blessed with "holy interruptions" to remind you that God is not confined to the daily routines you have set and that life is certainly not just about sitting at a desk facing a digital screen.


1 comment:

  1. Thank you Carlo. You have been a tremendous example this week of what grace looks like.