I have a saying in my house that gathered “treasures” always expand to exceed available storage. No matter how much storage a parsonage may have, it seems that by the time we move, every closet is stuffed full and both cars will not fit in the garage. Definitely a “First World Problem.” It helps when you move every so often because it forces you to go through things and clean out things you may not need. But sure enough, after you unpack in your new place and everything is in its place, your belongings again begin to swell and grow until the space is filled.
While on Sabbatical I had the opportunity to examine the things that fill my “space.” Some of that was physical because I had packed everything into one carry-on size case. Some of the space that was “cleaned out” was emotional and spiritual space. This Advent, we will be focusing on “Making Room” in our physical, emotional and spiritual lives. Sabbath, whether one day once a week or three months once every seven years is about making space for God.
I often thought of my Sabbatical as turning off my cell phone and computer. Oh, it was great to be disconnected from electronics physically, but what I am talking about is spiritual and emotional re-booting. When you turn off your cell phone or computer you clean things up. You may turn it off and back on to see if it will fix whatever problem you are having. We re-boot to close programs that may be running in the background we don’t know about or have forgotten. We re-boot to help de-fragment the storage system so programs we need will run more smoothly. We re-boot and decide afresh what programs we want or need to open and which ones we can leave closed. Sabbatical was a time to re-boot my emotional and spiritual system. Advent is a time to re-boot.
I am not talking about a “hard re-set” where you take out the battery or wipe the memory clean and reinstall. Most of us don’t need that. We need to stay connected to our power source, God, the church. I’m talking about a soft re-set that stays connected but makes room to reorganize what we already have and thoughtfully add new things that were not available or useful before. During Advent we make room for family and friends. We make room for the needs of others. We make room for those who do not have enough. We make room for the hungry and each other. We make room for God.
What I found on my Sabbatical is that there are several things in my spiritual life that I do or believe that are required for a healthy life but there are other things there because someone else expects that of me to or I just always have done them and they have become a habit. Other things seem to have taken on an addictive nature and I don’t seem to be able to stop even though they may no longer be needed.
I stayed in many different places and homes on my Sabbatical. Each one had a different idea of what it meant to make space for a guest, from a small bedroom in a family’s attic with a shared shower next to the cat litter box located on the first floor to a large two room suite with a queen bed and lovely bathroom shared only with my wife. Over time we don’t see things that clutter up our lives or stink up our spirits. We think we have plenty of room to receive the guest of the Christ child. This Advent, let us all re-boot and make sure we have all the room we think we do.
See you Sunday,