…we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it.
Hebrews 12:1b-2a, The Message
March has arrived, Easter is quickly approaching, and this means sabbatical time is also right around the corner. Yes, we’ve still got most of Lent and Easter, but the Big Sur International Marathon event countdown (at time of publication) along with the increasing miles on my training schedule are constant reminders that sabbatical time will soon be upon us and before we’re ready if we don’t keep it in focus!
There are several reasons that thinking about sabbatical time is a big deal:
A Time for Readiness
We need to be ready! My sabbatical time is in a good state of readiness: Marathon training is progressing, transportation and hotel and important campground reservations are booked, most of the needed upgrades to our trailer have been made, and mentally and spiritually I have a clear sense of what I hope to accomplish.
Are you as a congregation ready?
There will be some extra opportunities for you all to participate in the nuts and bolts of community life at LVPC during sabbatical time: leading worship, unlocking/ locking the building on Sundays, bread baking, communion preparations, fellowship, setting up for worship in the park, helping out with G.I.F.T. to name a few.
However, much more importantly, are you ready and open to the time of growth and reflection that God has in store for you? Are you prepared to make the most of the opportunity? Have you taken a a little time to consider how you might let the absence of the regular pastor be an opportunity for God to use your gifts in new ways?
If you own an Apple computer you know that they go into and wake up from sleep mode very well (just one of the many ways Apple’s operating system has out shined Windows for years.) The problem with this very convenient feature is we tend to rarely restart our devices and there are some distinct advantages to shutting down and restarting from time to time. A restart of your computer can solve all kinds of problems that tend to suck your machine’s short term memory and clog up processor function.
Church life can be a bit like those Apple computers that never get shut down and restarted; our rhythms, habits, worship routines, patterns of listening, and leadership can get a bit stagnant. It might be helpful if we thought of sabbatical time as a time to shutdown and restart. It is a chance to clear out the short term memory and make space for the Holy Spirit to move freely amongst us.
In what ways have you thought about getting ready for sabbath time?
How will you be open to the Spirit when we shutdown and restart in April?
A Time for Different Voices
You will be experiencing some different voices in the pulpit while I’m away. After 8 years and nearly 400 sermons it’s time for that restart I was talking about — for you and for me. This will be an amazing opportunity for God to use some different voices to illuminate Scripture. God will most certainly continue to work on our hearts and minds in worship and study, but in some cases it may be that we’ll hear something new when it comes from a different angle.
The session has arranged for Rev. Stefanie Muntzel, who will serve us as our Temporary Congregational Resource Pastor (you’ll find a bit more about Stefanie later in the newsletter), to do the bulk of the preaching. However, some members of our church will also take a turn from time to time and just maybe you are one of them.
Is sabbatical a time for you to explore how God might use your gifts for preaching and teaching?
A Time for the Worship Schedule to Change
You will also experience a slight schedule change during sabbatical. time. This change will serve as a constant reminder that you are taking part in a different rhythm, that our reboot is in progress, and a special attentiveness to the Spirit is required. Starting Sunday April 24th our regular service of worship will begin at 11 a.m. with our fellowship hour (coffee and conversation) starting at 10 a.m. Be sure and come early enough to engage one another in the blessing of community life before migrating over to the sanctuary for our formal hour of worship in song, prayer, and the Word preached.
A Time for Prayer
Now is a time for prayer as preparation. You can be sure that I’ve been praying for our sabbatical time, but I’m also committed to making my sabbatical a time of prayer for our congregation. It’s my hope that all of us will experience God in new ways during this unique time.
Keep the Pace
For ongoing updates as April 17th approaches and from the long run, long silence and long road trip of my sabbatical you can check back here.