Because I am a religious professional, I can typically recite Sunday dates for at least three months in advance. Living by the week makes time go quickly. If it’s September that means I’m late to plan for Hanging of the Greens, to getting Caryl my theme for Christmas Eve, to setting up the new year Staff Retreat schedule. If it’s July, there are only weeks (weeks!) to Flower Communion in September, to thinking about the End of Year gift… You get the picture.
It’s been a double whammy this church year, as each Sunday that passes also marks another week closer to our second child’s birth. There is hope and curiosity, a healthy dose of fear, and also trust as the weeks go by. I sense some of that in some of you, too, as you hear how close we are to the due date.
As a reminder, the baby is due on March 28th. And yes, there is a plan:
My contract allows me to take eight weeks for parental leave. I will be taking about (no more than) three of those weeks when the baby is born and the remaining five in July. Knowing we don’t know exactly when he will come, I have preachers ready to fill in for five Sundays surrounding the due date, beginning March 25 and through April 22. As long as baby hasn’t arrived, I will be in the pulpit. When he does come, you’ll be hearing from our intern, Sue Flynn, the Rev. Sue Goodwin, who preached here in September and who is leading an ARE class at UUCWC throughout the winter (Genesis and Ethics), and the Rev. Rob Gregson, Executive Director of UU FaithAction NJ.
There are area colleagues who are on call for pastoral emergencies. Their contact information will be held in the church office and with the Pastoral Care Team. And, of course, there is our incredible Pastoral Care Team.
Faith Forward and the path to membership will continue with the strength it has throughout this year; I’ve rearranged the Sundays I would present to Sundays I will be here. Yes, I will miss some evening meetings throughout April, but I’ve missed evening meetings before. And yes, there will be conversations and questions that need my attention, that I would otherwise be quick to respond to. But I trust, and hope you do too, the collective wisdom, expertise, and understanding of our system that can be found in leadership throughout this congregation.
As much as it’s hard for me to say this, it will also be a challenge for me to step out of the system for even three weeks. I want to be here and be responsible to everything you need and want me for. For better or worse, that’s always true.
But I will be home with my growing family, learning about each other, learning new ways of being, and being together. And hopefully – with a prayer to all things holy – getting a little sleep, too. For no more than three weeks before I return.
I know there are some who are anxious about my leave. I understand this. I hope together, we will celebrate another member to this beautiful world, to my family, to our family.