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Point Loma Nazarene University had a “Pastor’s Day” this past month; a free day of learning for local clergy.  The topic was leadership in a time of crisis.  It was fantastic.

The speaker was addressing the issue of fatigue that so many leaders are feeling as a result of this pandemic.  He said this:

“The antidote to exhaustion is not [always simply] rest, but wholeheartedness.  Living ‘half here’ will kill you after a while.” - Rev. Dr. Todd Bolsinger

I felt a ‘yes’ rise up from the depths of me. The antidote to exhaustion is to give yourself wholeheartedly to something you love, because living wholeheartedly is regenerative.  It gives back.  It pays dividends.

We’re all acutely aware of the half-here-ness that the pandemic required of us, especially in the beginning.  We could worship, but via our computer screens.  Our kids did school online…sort of.  We connected with friends via screens and phone lines. Little by little though, for the past several months, we have collectively taken steps to recover our fullness.  Worshipping in-person, a return to Sunday school and VBS, memorial services and AA meetings.  We still have a ways to go but we are on the way. 

When a crisis happens, we hold part of ourselves in reserve, knowing that our steady stream of resources is being disrupted, not knowing what’s coming next.  It’s all part of the natural way we get through these things. Then there comes a point when that holding ourselves in reserve becomes detrimental. 

We may wear masks for a very long time when we gather indoors with large groups.  We may have to do life differently after this or any other crisis.  Wholeheartedness does not necessarily mean returning to the way we’ve always done things.  But it seems pertinent to continue to deeply discern how and where to give our congregational heart fully, with creativity and adaptability in our hip pocket, which the Spirit has given us in spades. 

It’s a perfect time to discern where and how to give ourselves entirely as Advent begins, preparing us for the birth of Jesus.  The incarnation is the event in time when God entered with his whole heart into our world.  No holds barred.  God was all in when Jesus was born in Bethlehem and laid in a manger among the animals.  Risks were present, the threat of death loomed when Herod got wind of his birth, humanity was mired in violence and corruption and God in Jesus gave himself completely to us, conserving no part of himself from us. 

What are you giving your whole heart to these days? What are you giving your full power to in a way that sustains you? What is at the heart of this congregation that fuels us and propels us? These are the questions on my mind as we head into a new year.  The pandemic forced us into a conservation mindset, one that served us all well in the early days.  It’s abundantly clear to me now that while we must continue to live with thoughtful discernment and concern, it is time to take the part of us that we were keeping in reserve and give it over, holding nothing back from God.

To wholeheartedly giving ourselves to God’s purposes,

Pastor Bekki