Renewal Wrap-Up · Heritage UMC

Renewal Wrap-Up

Thursday, September 24 2020 by Matt Horan

So pastors are supposed to take one week per year, and four weeks every four years, for a time of spiritual retreat and renewal.  For my first 13 years of pastoral ministry, I said, “Nah… I don’t need that.”  However, feeling somewhat spiritually weary near the end of the summer, I decided to finally give it a try.

Now I get it.  I had no idea I needed such a season until I tried it.

I deviated from my original reading plan some.  I began with reading my first fictional book in about two years, Ready Player One, and that was great.  (Anybody who grew up in the 80’s should absolutely read it!)

Then I began reading The Body Keeps the Score, which is an engrossing exploration of the transformative effects of traumatic experiences on our body chemistry and physiology.

I stopped at the site of the Confederate Civil War prison in Andersonville, GA, and recorded a devotional message to share with the congregation in the coming weeks.

I read that book while also praying and journaling through the Book of Joshua during my devotional time.  I truly sensed the presence of God with me, using this combination of resources to help me explore the origins of some of my own thoughts, behaviors, and worries.  As the days went on, I really felt peace about these things settling into my spirit, and I realize now that these four weeks away gave me the space and time to go on a sufficiently deep journey of self-reflection that I normally wouldn’t have time for.

I got to take this journey during some time at Warren Willis Camp, time at home with my family, and then in North Carolina, with a couple other refreshing and renewing stops along the way.  I cannot say thank you enough to our amazing staff and lay leaders who encouraged me to take this time, and covered everything while I was away so I didn’t have to worry about anything!

It was a rich and renewing time, and now I’m glad to be back.  It was good to visit with Jenna at UNF on the way through Jacksonville, and then to get home last night and see Susan and Ashley after being gone driving all over the South for more than two weeks.  I’m now eager to resume the work to which I’m called at Heritage, making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world!


Matt Horan
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who is Heritage?

Heritage is a United Methodist Church in Clearwater, FL with the goal of loving those around us, equipping leaders with roles that require their unique abilities, and inviting everyone into a life changing relationship with Jesus.

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