Blood, Sweat, and Tears

After five months away for sabbatical and vacation, I am glad to be back with the congregation. I am also glad to say I felt a warm welcome upon my return to the pulpit on August 11 (a minister never knows what might transpire in one’s absence!).

Sabbatical is not vacation, as in a time to “get away” or a time to abstain from work. Rather, sabbatical is a time to go deeper and engage in work with a special focus. For me that focus took the form of reflection on my past eight years of ordained ministry, personal recommitment to the principles and purposes that define our faith, and more robust action in service to core values.

On August 11, I shared some details about how I spent my time. I feel some obligation to do this with the congregation as I do believe we need to be accountable to one another for how we work (and sometimes don’t work) to embody the principles we covenant to affirm and promote. For me, one of the great values of religious community is the accountability it often provides: when we are at our best, we hold one another accountable to live in right relationship, as defined by our principles and purposes.

During my sabbatical, I found renewal and deepening in the work of giving blood, sweat, and tears. Since March I have given three gallons of platelets at the American Red Cross Blood Donation Center on Spring Garden Street in Philadelphia. Since March, I have given my sweat, pedaling more than 2,000 miles on my bicycle, including a ride to Washington, D.C., with Interfaith Power and Light, to lobby representatives to act on climate change. And since March, I have continued to give my tears, as I provide spiritual care to Veterans, and bear witness to the consequences of U.S. warfare.

I call this work, and any work in service to core values, ministry. This month I invite you to consider our shared ministry, which was central to the UUCRT’s call when I became your settled minister.

In August, we celebrated Terri Pahucki’s completion of her term of service as UUCRT Lay Commissioned Minister. I will miss sharing my ministry with Terri at the UUCRT, yet I rejoice knowing Terri leaves this role at the UUCRT to expand her ministry in other contexts, that Terri and I will continue to remain colleagues in the Unitarian Universalist Minister’s Association, and Terri has established a precedent at the UUCRT that invites others, perhaps you, to follow.

See you on Sunday,