January 6, 2017

Planning and Resting in the Holy Spirit

Pope Francis stated in his Christmas message of 2014, "Preparing things well is necessary, but don't fall into the temptation of trying to close or direct the freedom of the Holy Spirit, which is bigger and more generous than any human plan.

As we begin the New Year 2017, many leaders are planning in earnest the work that needs to be accomplished for the year. For the procrastinators among us now is a good time to start. Within congregations, a Parish Coordinator is essential to ensure that all items planned by the clergy, vestry, and committees are reflected on a master calendar. 

The calendar should be posted in a conspicuous place such that any member of the congregation has access to it. Both electronic and physical postings are necessary to ensure maximum coverage.

It is also recommend that dates are shared early and to a wide audience, for example with the diocesan office, neighboring Episcopal and Ecumenical congregations and with the surrounding communities and organizations. How many times have we all lamented that not enough people attended an event that we put so much effort into planning when we simply failed to share the dates with others or were unaware of standing calendar dates?

It is also highly desirable that we look for opportunities to have more joint events and less navel-gazing, perhaps starting with joining a neighboring Episcopal Church! If everyone is having a Lenten program, after-school outreach or musical concert, we may spice things up a bit by trying something different rather than the same old predictable event. Come Holy Spirit.
Pope Francis also said later in that message, "Rest for those who have done their work is necessary, good and should be taken seriously."

I once had a manager who made the practice of and recommended to us that the first thing that we should put on our calendar each year is our vacation time. In addition to being done individually, this practice can be shared with our committees and boards. In this way we actively make plans to rest, and allow the Holy Spirit into our resting as well as planning times.