I have a routine for Sunday mornings that I have been following for the last many years. I wake up at 4:00am, then groggily stumble to the shower. After getting dressed, I quietly tiptoe through the house, gathering all the things I’ll need for the day and – especially – filling a travel mug and a thermos full of coffee for my morning. I drive to the church, arriving around 5:00am. Once in the building, I prepare four pots of coffee, make sure communion and other worship materials are ready and in place, and unlock doors. Then, I sit (or stand) at my desk, pray, and then wait for the Holy Spirit to show up to give me the words to say for my sermon that day. Praying, writing, erasing, re-writing, and rehearsing usually takes me right up until the start of worship, after which the morning feels like it’s pretty much over.
I don’t mind this Sunday morning routine. It has provided my life with a steady and stable rhythm, week in and week out for years. But…
I won’t have to do that during my renewal leave next summer, and I wonder what that will feel like. Honestly, I’m not sure if I’ll miss it or not. Either way, I will have ample opportunity next summer to rest, which is really the intended goal of the renewal leave. Not work; just rest.
There will surely be things that will fill my days between family time, creating things in the workshop, writing, reading, exploring (more on that next month). But all of these will be extensions of the theme of rest. Without the pressure of deadlines and high expectations, rest – real rest – seems possible.
The name sabbatical comes from the same root as the word “Sabbath.” The Sabbath is one day out of every seven that is intended for rest. (Therefore, Sabbaticals are recommended once every seven years.) The Sabbath, indeed, is not just an intention of God, but a commandment! But, more than that, it is a gift. The gift of time for rest. Not just the absence of work; but true rest, that has the potential to restore and rejuvenate. The point is, whether talking about a once-a-week Sabbath or a once-every-seven-years sabbatical, rest should rejuvenate us and prepare us in mind, body, and spirit to return joyfully to the work to which God has called us.
I’m looking forward to some time of rest next summer; but I’m already eager to see how such rest will lead to a more robust sense of call upon my return.
P.S.: The dates for my renewal leave will be from Monday, June 6, 2022, to Monday, September 19, 2022. Have more questions? Please ask me about it!