So on May 20 I begin my first Sabbatical in 19 years of ordained ministry and 7 years and 4 months at Holy Trinity. Since this is my first sabbatical I'm still learning how this will play out but the guiding principle will be the three R's of "rest, refresh, and refocus". Sabbatical comes from the biblical word "sabbath" where God created the universe and "on the 7th day God rested", God took a sabbath, God rested to soak up the goodness of creation. The third commandment even commands God's people to allow the 7th day to be a day of rest and sabbath from a hard weeks work, to soak up the goodness of life and work. Over and over again in the Hebrew scriptures the number 7 comes up as an indication of sabbath, rest and renewal. Each rostered member of the Holy Trinity staff have in their letter of call to take a Sabbatical after 7 years of ministry for a chance to rest, and to refresh and refocus our ministry together, a chance to soak up the goodness of ministry and discipleship. My Sabbatical will be three months from May 20 to August 20,
Over the course of these three months of my Sabbatical I plan to take some time for rest and renewal. A big part of my vocation and job is keeping up with a busy schedule and checking in with people who also have very busy schedules. My hope is to take some time to not be so schedule driven and to not be so tied to technology. So I personally will not be answering any emails or messages but rest assured our church staff will be on point all summer long. If there is a pastoral need please contact the church office and someone will respond to your need.
I also have a large stack of books I plan to read, some theological, but mostly sci-fi and geeky novels that I haven't had the time to read over the last few years. I have planned some experiences and road trips for myself and with my family. These books, trips and experiences will allow me to read and experience new adventures that will allow me to be refreshed and refocused when I return to Holy Trinity at the beginning of the new school year in the fall.
Here are some things I have planned over the course of the Sabbatical...
- The spiritual practice of cleaning out closets and other work around the house
- a personal silent spiritual retreat at Mepkin Abbey in South Carolina
- a trip to Europe to have a tour of CERN in Geneva and to see a family friend in France
- visiting other churches and faith communities to see from a different perspective what others do on a Sunday morning
- time with family in the mountains and at the beach
- and perhaps catch a wave or two if the ocean cooperates
I plan to do a Sunday School class or workshop in the fall to share my experiences and share any "a-ha's" I discovered over my Sabbatical.
And so my reminder and challenge to you is that while I'm going on Sabbatical, Holy Trinity Lutheran and Lutheran Campus Ministry isn't.
Sure, we observe the Sabbath by gathering each and every Sunday around God's Word and the Sacraments to be refreshed and to refocus our faith, but there is also a lot of ministry taking place over the summer. Our mission of "loving God and loving neighbor" will not take time off as our mission continues to take shape through our core values...
Faith Formation - We will hosting a number of camps this summer as well as taking youth to camps like Lutheridge, Lutherock and Camp Agape. We are also hosting Vacation Bible School for adult, youth and children July 21-25.
Worship - This summer we will be in the season of the Sunday's after Pentecost, a season of the Holy Spirit inspiring us during worship and leading us out into the world to share our gifts and share God's love for all.
Outreach - Through our financial giving and volunteering with our talents we will continue to reach out to our community and neighbors. We are are also continuing to plan for "God's Work, Our Hands" Sunday in September.
Lutheran Campus Ministry - Yes the summer months have a quieter and more laid back pace around Chapel Hill, but we still have students involved in our campus ministry attending Summer School, working at internships in town, and working at Christian summer camps all across the state. Our students are also planning for the fall semester and writing letters reaching out to prospective students for the upcoming new school year.
Among these ministries taking place Church Council will continue to gather each month as well as some of our other ministry teams who are committed to move forward in faith and ministry.
So as you can see Holy Trinity will be far from sitting still this summer.
I do hope you too will have a chance this summer to find some rest and renewal. I hope that you can take some time to take a break from technology and spend time with family and friends. And in this you may continue to grow in your faith and how God is calling you to use your gifts as a follower of Jesus the crucified and risen Christ.
Keep me in your prayers as you will remain in mine.
See you in a few months.