From the Desk of Bishop Johnson: May

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

— Matthew 11:28-30 —

I’m writing this article last minute on a Monday morning because I managed to actually practice a bit of self-care this weekend (and because I’m an easily-distracted Enneagram 7 who forgot to write it on Thursday as planned, but let’s go with the reason that fits better with this month’s theme, shall we?).

It was a rare weekend where I didn’t have any synod events on either Saturday or Sunday, so I was able to spend some time in non-ministry pursuits of various shapes and sizes. On Saturday my wife Kristin and I cleaned out and reorganized our garage, a long-overdue task that included divesting ourselves of some possessions that had sat unused for far too long and needed to be passed on to our local Goodwill. I raked and mulched most of the leaves that had blown into our yard over the winter, pulled weeds in our flower beds, and did some general puttering around the house and yard. I read the weekend newspapers, then we made homemade pizza and watched a movie together on Saturday night. Sunday morning our whole family attended worship together at our church and heard a great Good Shepherd Sunday sermon, then I drove to Omaha to play in a community band concert, our last for the season. After that, I came home & and played bingo with my family at a fundraiser for our church’s senior high service trip to Florida this summer.

None of this is anything too spectacular, but it’s important because of one crucial piece: it was a weekend of Sabbath-keeping, and I’m now returning to this office in a better, healthier place because of it. That’s not to say that ministry is never-ending drudgery or something I don’t enjoy; I have loved being a pastor for almost 20 years now, and God has seen fit to grant me a sense of joy in much of the work that comes with this office. I truly believe that vocational calls are calls to work; God gives us certain gifts that are meant to serve the world around us in many and various ways. But God has also made the practice of rest holy, and intends for us to practice self-care by finding the appropriate balance of work and rest.

In our newsletters this month, you’ll be hearing from a number of folks about the practices of spirituality and self-care. May is a season of transitions: the school year is ending, summer weather is arriving, outdoor activities are picking up – why not make it a time to take stock of your own spiritual well-being and how God might be encouraging you to new or renewed self-care practices? Make an appointment with a spiritual director or counselor; attend worship just for the sake of being in worship; look around for the parts of your life that could use a bit more attention and purpose; take up a new hobby that brings you joy – all of these are practices through which the Holy Spirit can move and act and bring you the peace into which Jesus is always inviting us. Yes, it’s still a yoke, but it’s an easy one, because Jesus is under it with us, gently reminding us that God’s children are human beings, valued for who we are far more than what we do.

May that peace bless you, friends, today and always.

Yours in Christ
Bishop Scott Johnson