Sabbatical Time

"let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith" (Hebrews 12:1b-2a)

Images from Sacred Heart

Long Silence

My original plan was to write this post much sooner. I figured after eight days of silence, in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains, I’d have plenty to write about. Somehow it just didn’t work out that way. For starters, long road trips require quite a bit of preparation and I was busy till the moment we pulled out.

My time in Colorado at the Sacred Heart Jesuit Retreat Center was wonderful. It was long, but never seemed unbearably long. My days were filled the gift of silence and attention to God’s presence. 

Each day I spent and hour with a Spiritual director who listened carefully and gave me suggestions for how I might use scripture or prayer practices for the following 24 hours. 

It is strange to have so much time free of distraction and I think I’m still coming to an understanding of the those eight days. I did not experience a great epiphany while wandering the foothills of scrub along the Frontrange, but I did begin to understand how my ongoing life of faith and ministry could be strengthened by a deeper more focused prayer life.

I’m grateful for the experience of such a long silence and will look forward to how it will influence my life as your pastor in the coming years. 

We Finished the Race

Running the Race

Today was my last day at LVPC for a few months. I am ready to take a step back from the routine of the last eight years, but at the same time it feels strange. It feels a bit like coming to the end of a semester of college with the anticipation of a summer working at camp (but it has been over 20 years since I’ve done that).

It is a unique gift to step away from one’s life in this way and I am praying that I can absolutely make the very most of it. To live in the moment of each day not worried about tomorrow, or the next day, month, or year. Maybe more than at any other point in my life I am moving into each day with a sense of expectancy for what the Holy Spirit will reveal today.

Kim and I will also be running in a race one week from today. It may not seem like a restful way to begin a sabbatical, but there is something about the challenge of a marathon that seemed an appropriate way to enter into a period of reflection and contemplation. The challenges that lie ahead on the edge of the Pacific Ocean will no doubt serve as an ongoing metaphor throughout my sabbatical.

Many of you have asked about keeping track of us while we run. The easiest way to do this (assuming you have a smart phone) is to download the Big Sur International Marathon Events App. It is free and fairly easy to navigate. You can track up to thee runners and get our progress at several intermediary points along the course. Our bib numbers are 3176 and 3177, but you can search us out by name too.

Finally, I’d like to express thanks to the whole LVPC community for all the support, encouragement, and well wishes. In do time I will be looking forward to returning to ministry along side you all.
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We are very quickly approaching Sabbatical time at LVPC and Wednesday was an important reminder of just how close we are. Kim and I began our morning with the last of our targeted training runs. I am as ready as I’ll ever be to run the Big Sur Marathon – only 9 days from now!

And then on Wednesday night at youth group we celebrated by sharing in the infamous and often requested “Toxic Cereal Night.” It could be weeks before we work all those food dyes out of our systems, but there was an amazing variety of cereals. Amazingly, every single person brought a different toxic cereal to share (who knew that could even be possible).

As I was saying goodbye to the kids it sort of hit me; as much as I’m looking forward to the adventures and altered routine of the next couple months I’m also going to miss the community we share at LVPC and I will miss these toxic cereal loving kids.

I will, however, rest assured that this man will be looking after their safety and spiritual development for the rest of this school year!


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Counting Down

 Screen Shot 2016-02-25 at 4.16.58 PM…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 VoicesIMG_1230

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.


Chads Signature Help

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