During the last week of September and the first two weeks of October, I will be on a renewal/evaluation/continuing education leave as mandated in the newest Book of Discipline of our denomination, where it states that once every eight years, every pastor take such a time away from the daily life and work of the church.  At the end of September, I will be attending the annual Leadership Institute at the Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas (the largest UM church in the country pastored by Adam Hamilton).  This is an event that I have wanted to attend for a number of years and am grateful for the time this fall to do so.  I am also grateful to our conference for providing grant money for me to attend this conference at no cost to our church.  In my absence, Pastor Carolin, our Lay Speakers, members of our Lay Visitation team, and the rest of our awesome staff will continue their great work in carrying out the ongoing ministry of the church. 

In the meantime, I am looking forward to our regular worship schedule resuming on September 8th (along with all other Sunday morning activities, including Kingdom Kids for our children).  We will begin that Sunday a three-week series looking at some well-known passages from Paul’s first letter to Timothy.  This letter is famous for its short, pithy statements.  I used to call them examples of “bumper sticker theology” (you can fit them on a bumper sticker), but now in our age of social media (particularly Twitter), we might call them examples of Paul’s “@hashtag” message.  Whatever we call them, they are statements that tend to stick with us.  So in order, the “@hashtags” we will be looking are:  “Christ Came to Save Sinners” (from 1 Timothy 1), “Pray for Kings” (1 Timothy 2), and “The Root of All Evil”  (1 Timothy 6). 

What we will discover is both the timelessness of these instructions as well as the challenge still inherent in them.  To remember that Christ came to save even us at our worst moments, and that we must pray for our leaders (even when we disagree with them), and that money still can be the root of all evil for all of us—those are reminders that we all need regardless of where we are in our faith journeys. 

So I will covet your prayers in my days away from the church.  I am looking forward to the opportunities for reflection and growth that inevitably come in such a time.