I will forever be grateful to the Lily Corporation for awarding us a $27,000 grant to pay for my 3-month sabbatical earlier this year; to the MCC Austin board of directors and staff who led everything beautifully while I was gone; and to our congregation, especially our many ministry leaders, who prayed for and encouraged me and one another the whole time. I think we will all experience the benefits and blessings of that 3-month period for many years to come.

Starting this Sunday I’ll be taking you with me on a 6-week look back at my sabbatical adventure. This is what the schedule looks like:

May 5 – “In My Mind I’m Gone to Carolina”

May 12 – “The Genesee Diary: Unbreakable”

May 19 – “Sweet Home Alabama”

May 26 – “The Quilt”

June 2 – “Sabbath”

June 9 – “Pentecost: Creating Church”

Each week I will be using pictures from my travels in our worship slides. I also would love to include pictures from you all. Each week I’ll ask you for certain kinds of pictures, and if you can send them (in electronic format to office@mccaustin.com) by Friday at 5:00 p.m., I’ll get them in. For this Sunday, May 5, I’m looking for pictures of the place that is your “soul place” or “spirit home.” For me, that place is North Carolina. For Jesus, I believe that place was Bethany, at the home of his friends Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. That’s where I believe Jesus found rest for his soul. Where is the place your heart always longs for even if you now call somewhere else home?

You are welcome to be creative with your pictures. You can send pictures of you in the place, or send representative pictures—like a “Welcome to …” sign or a license plate or an iconic landmark. If you think I might need help identifying the place, please tell me where the place is.

Also, each week you’ll be hearing our worship leaders telling their own personal stories that match up with our sermon topic. If you want to get a jump on next week, send me your pictures of coming out, or becoming an ally, or celebrating LGTBQ history or events. On Sunday, May 12, we will have members of the Capital City Men’s Chorus (under the direction of our own Dr. Daniel Arredondo) to sing selections from Unbreakable by Andrew Lippa, an amazing new choral work that explores the gay experience in the U.S.

Love and Blessings,