Press On: Sabbatical
Last Sunday, I stood in the pulpit to preach for the final time until the first Sunday in October. It was a strange feeling.
In a few days, I begin a four-month sabbatical thanks to the Lilly Endowment. Much of the time I will be with my family--at home and traveling. Some of the time I will be on rivers and streams--fly-fishing.
I've come to understand, however, my sabbatical will be about what I'm not doing, too. I'm unplugging from many of my daily routines. I won't be checking email, or keeping a daily to-do list, or looking at Facebook, or attending meetings, for four months.
Gosh, what will I do with myself???
Since first learning I received the sabbatical grant last summer I have been humbled and grateful--humbled by the generosity of the Lilly Endowment, and grateful for this opportunity to step away for a while.
I'm curious to discover what I will learn over the months to come. I will journal. I have some reading planned. I will focus, with the assistance of a colleague, on moving deeper into a life of prayer. I may even post a blog piece or two, to keep you abreast of how the sabbatical is unfolding. But for the most part, I'm just going to enjoy the gift of unplugging from the routines that make up so much of my life.
I'm also curious to discover what the New Hope family will learn about itself in the coming months. Our leaders have worked hard this past year to prepare for this summer. Many people have stepped up to help in the preparations. During the sabbatical, many others will be taking on new roles in worship leadership and volunteering to participate in church life in a variety of ways beyond Sunday worship.
At New Hope we talk about the church being the people of God in its "gathered" and "scattered" state. Often the pastor in our church, or any church, is seen as the primary initiator of this work. While the pastor is a key leader in our, or any church, God's people can be initiators, too, of the gathered and scattered work Christ gives us. This summer the people of New Hope have the opportunity to discover they can be a faithful body of believers even without the leadership of their pastor for a while.
I expect, come September, we'll all have stories to tell about how we have seen God at work. I look forward to those conversations.
So, yes, it is a strange feeling knowing I won't be preaching, or doing a lot of the things I normally do, in the coming months. But I expect by the fall both I, and the congregation, will have moved farther along in our faithfulness to Christ. It will be a joy to come back together to resume the adventure God has for us as pastor and people.
Keep pressing on,