Sunday, October 14, 2012

Sabbath Time

Today the St. Paul's Ministry and Personnel committee chairperson will inform the congregation that I I am taking sabbatical time during June, July, and August of 2013. The United Church has a policy that every covenanted minister can negotiate a sabbatical after every five years of service with a congregation. This will be my first with St. Paul's and will come after a decade with the congregation. As the name implies, this is sabbath time, an opportunity to pause and deepen a relationship with God and one's self.

Sabbaticals include the expectation of a plan for the time away with a combination of educational focus and personal restoration. Because of who we are, ministers go to work on Sunday rather than worship, so a sabbatical also provides the opportunity to "go to church" where someone else presides rather than provide leadership. We need to be fed as well.

I am looking forward to being more intentional in a couple of areas of my own faith formation and theological exploration. I expect that God will say "so how have you been?' and it will be good to reestablish that deeper desire for communion with Christ  which stirred in me forty years ago or more and eventually led to ministry.

I will also appreciate a few months to step away from what is both the privilege and the weight of being a spiritual companion to a great many people in pain. There are times in a long pastorate where it seems impossible to keep up. Sabbatical is an opportunity to lay those burdens down for a time with the hope of coming back with renewed vigour and compassion. Pastors can't give what they haven't got.

From the sabbatical I took while serving another congregation for eleven years I know that some people will appreciate why this is important, some will be puzzled, and some just won't get it. Sabbaticals are far more common in the academic world. While information will help, there are always folk who figure we should be willing to be constantly "on call" or assume we don't do much anyway!

Even though this is mandated by the United Church, I am grateful for the opportunity to recollect myself as a follower of Christ.


Stacey said...

This morning's announcement in church brought a smile to my face for you. I'll leave you with this little story.

I hope you find your own old and cranky spider.

Laurie said...

Sabbaticals are a great idea! Wish more work places would incorporate them into their places. Have a great summer time and hope it renews you.

roger said...

I can't think of anyone who deserves it more, David. Feed a few birds at the Second Marsh for me!

David Mundy said...

Thanks folks. I look forward to pursuing areas of study which the day-to-day demands of ministry simply don't allow. I am also excited about the possibility of weekends with my wife Ruth.