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 This Sunday, we will be celebrating the Epiphany. Yes, a few days later than what is on the calendar, but I like to think that seeking keeps going. The Magi were seekers. They were seeking wisdom. They were seeking fortunes to tell the future. Their seeking leads them to Jesus. And yet, their seeking is also what protects them from Herod’s deception and harm. After the Magi go home in another way, Joseph is visited again by an angel in his dream. This time, the angel brings a warning, and like before, Joseph follows the message. Escaping from Herod, Joseph, Mary, and baby Jesus seek safety in Egypt. Like the Magi, may we seek the Spirit’s work in our lives and be willing to journey closer to God. 

 My journey of sabbatical begins on Monday, January 9 – Sunday, March 26. It will be a time for me to seek the Spirit’s work in my life and hope to strengthen and renew my faith. It will also be a time of learning, visioning, and resting.  My guide in this journey is our generosity theme, Expand the Table. I will be traveling to three different places to focus on different areas of the theme. My sabbatical begins with a trip to the Holy Land in January. During this part of my journey, I will focus on Feeding My Soul. I will travel with 40 pastors and church leaders. We will be learning about Jesus’ life in ministry as we explore the identity and calling of Jesus and do a study of Jesus the Messiah. 

 In the month of February, I will be traveling to Arizona for a weeklong retreat on Leading Well at Spirit of the Desert.  Leading Well is for pastors and church leaders that offers practical learning, Sabbath rest, and support. My focus during this time is Set a Place for Everyone. This will be a time for visioning as I think about our ministry context and how we as a community are called to lead and adapt in a changing ministry environment. 

 My last trip in March will be with Mission Save a Smile. I will be joining members Chris and Patty Burseth and a crew of others to bring dental care to children. In this part of my journey, my theme focus is Serve Our Neighbor. I will be doing hands-on work, putting fluoride on children’s teeth. This is an opportunity for me to serve and try something I have never done before. I will be flying into Panama City and then taking a smaller plane to the Island of Achutupu, Panama. 

 In the quiet times of my sabbatical journey when I am not traveling, I will be working on slowing down, reading, making meals, spending time with family and friends, visiting Bethany South, and just being with God. After each of my trips, I will share a reflective article with pictures to share with you some of my experiences.

 I cannot thank you enough for this opportunity to take a sabbatical. You are in good hands with a very gifted staff and excellent council leaders. While this is a time for me to learn and grow, I think is it also an opportunity for the staff and council to learn and grow and develop new skills and step up in new ways.  

 This new year, let’s keep seeking! Peace and Love, Pastor Cathy