Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.
Rest. Reflect. Restore. Those are the words of Sabbatical that will be guiding me for the next 12 weeks. My time away begins June 4-August 24. Thankfully, Sam Geyer and Bob Merriman will provide for pastoral care, preaching, and visitation in my absence. If you need a visit, please contact the church office and Libby will help coordinate that for you.
The theme of my sabbatical is “Patchwork Pilgrimage”. I will visit quilting communities, read and explore the “places” of my spiritual mentors, and reflect on the last 20 years of ministry, while looking toward the next 20 years to which God is calling me. I love quilting and the way fabric art brings history and life together. I have a stack of books by my spiritual mentors that I have never found time to read, so I am looking forward to delving deeply into those waters. I am planning a trip to the East Coast to visit places I have never been. I want to rest and relax at our family cabin and at our swimming pool to enjoy my kids while they are still young (ages 7 and 12). If timing and interest lines up, I may explore online courses for spiritual direction and reflection.
Part 1 – Travel to New England States to visit Frederick Buechner’s home, Eugene Peterson’s first church, and visit Amish quilting communities.
The purpose of the New England trip is to connect with the places of the authors I am studying. I believe that the “terroir” feeds the experience and output of a person. I want to walk in their steps. I also love how fabric arts, quilting in particular, share the story of a person’s life and faith. How you put the colors and shapes together in order to create something useful and also beautiful, speaks to the entirety of a person’s hopes, faith, and experience of life.
Another purpose of the sabbatical is to rest and enjoy time with my family and friends.
These activities are important and will benefit the congregation by helping us to have a stronger witness to our faith. It does not have to be a door to door campaign-as some groups have adopted. Instead, our faith life can be expressed in all areas: through our hobbies, our livelihood, our relationships, and our words. This time away will benefit me as a respite from the constant demands of ministry and the relentless pursuit of Sunday worship. The past three years have been the most difficult times in my ministry. The past year in particular has been exceptionally stressful as we have been without three full-time staff members. Thank you to all the volunteers and part-time staff who have worked tirelessly to keep our programs and student ministries going! I need physical rest and emotional space to re-envision a life of ministry in this place at this time with the limited resources available to us.
The mutual benefit to the congregation is having a pastor who is rejuvenated for ministry as well as possessing new ideas for sharing our faith through our lives. I will miss you and I ask that you continue to keep our family in your prayers over the summer. We will be praying for you.
And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.