Sabbatical – adjective – of or pertaining or appropriate to the Sabbath; any extended period of leave from one’s customary work, esp. for rest, to acquire new skills or training, etc.
I like this definition of the word “sabbatical” (found on Dictionary.com), because it encompasses the two important meanings of the word.
The first meaning is derived from “Sabbath,” the God-ordained rest mentioned in the Ten Commandments (“Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy”). The Sabbath was designed to be a day of rest for everyone and everything (including animals) to allow for their bodies to rest and rejuvenate.
The Sabbath was also meant to be a day of worship. It was not just a “day off”; the time saved from working was to be devoted to God. The Sabbath is meant for “purposeful rest.” Today, the notion of taking a Sabbath seems quaint and outdated, and few of us carve out a significant block of time each week (meaning longer than an hour and fifteen minutes on Sunday morning) for rest and worship.
The second definition stems for the first. A sabbatical is an extended break from one’s duties for rest, continuing education, and renewal. My employment contract allows me a three-month sabbatical every five years. July 1 marks my seven-year anniversary at the church.
Therefore, next summer, from June 1 to Sept. 7, I will be taking my first sabbatical. To help facilitate that, I’ve applied for a Clergy Renewal Grant from the Eli Lilly Foundation, a great supporter of churches and clergy in America. I should hear in the fall whether or not I have received the grant, which would allow me to do some traveling and spent some quality time with my family, as well as focus on strengthening my relationship with God.
So what happens at CCC during those months? A lot, I hope! We’ll be covering the ministerial and pastoral duties with existing staff (Nelson and Michael), and the Lilly grant would provide some funds to bring in guest preachers and workshop leaders. The Elders and other elected leaders of the church will be responsible for keeping us moving forward during that time.
Being the computer junkie that I am, I will be sure to keep in touch with all of you. I plan on maintaining a “sabbatical blog” during my time away, which will include stories, reflections, and pictures of my travels. I’ll be sharing thoughts on my reading of scripture, and maybe even a movie review or two. While we’ll be out of sight from each other, you will never be out of mind for me.
While the idea of taking a break from the church both scares and excites me, I believe it will be a time of growth for all of us. I’m eager to learn about myself during my time away, but I’m even more enthusiastic to hear what the church learns about itself. I expect that when we come together again in September, neither of us will be the same as when we parted company in June.
Please be in prayer that God blesses me with the Lilly grant, which would allow me experience places and things of which I have only dreamed. If (When?) I get it, I’ll be sure to tell you all about it. Until then, I pray that we all find a little “Sabbath time” for rest and worship. We’ve earned it!