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Chaos, Order and My Vacation

Chaos, Order and My Vacation

by Stella Burkhalter on May 17, 2023

I’m thinking a lot about chaos and order these days. It’s May, and something seems to happen in my internal clock at this time every year: an alarm goes off that says, “Stop being so busy!”

Graduations, end-of-the-school-year activities, and birthday parties pile up, spring fever is in full swing, and I always seem to find myself overscheduled and undermotivated.  

As we continue to consider the letter to the Ephesians, I am still holding on to the idea that we are “in Christ.” Jesus holds us together when things fall apart. He holds us together when there aren’t enough hours in the day. He holds us together when we start getting resentful about who is not doing their share of the work. Usually, when I finally let go and give myself permission to slow down, Jesus reminds me that HE is at the center and the world will keep turning without me trying to run things. I need periodic reminders that I am not the messiah – HE will hold everything together!

For years, my friends Eric and Staci have offered counseling and soul care for an organization called Ministry Essentials. When their youngest child left the nest last year, they decided to take on this work full-time. They packed up their house and moved to the headquarters in Budapest to run a respite house for worldwide missionaries. It has been so interesting to hear their stories. Next week, I will get to hear some in person - Hunter and I are going to visit.

As my vacation nears, I am realizing that this will be more than just an exciting trip. We are going to offer a respite to them – care for the caregivers.  We will see the city and treat them to some nice dinners, then travel with them to Croatia for a few days on the Adriatic coast. It’s a hard assignment, but somebody’s gotta do it!

Hungary shares a border with Ukraine, so Eric and Staci have been doing a lot of grief care with refugees living with fear and uncertainty, along with the regular demands of their work. With their gentle spirits and gift of empathy, they have offered peace through storms for many.  It makes my problem of too many social events feel like an embarrassing thing to worry about.

At the end of the Letter of the Ephesians, we find the famous passage telling us to put on the full armor of God. My favorite part of the passage is Ephesians 6:13, after all the equipment for spiritual warfare is listed.  It says, “Having done all, stand.” That’s it. Just stand there. You’ve got all these fancy weaponry (“a panoply” is one translation) and God tells you to just stand there. Sometimes we are so busy running around, we lose sight of what we need to do, and we find our spirits in chaos. Stopping to take a breath brings clarity. God takes over and brings order and peace. In this week’s sermon, Tom will say more about all that.

Today I thank God for order, even when things feel like chaos, and for peace, even when things feel disrupted. I especially thank God for vacation. I hope you have one on the horizon, too.

Pastor Stella

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