Pastor’s Note: Sabbatical

Pastor’s Note: Sabbatical

Join us for an open house this Sunday after worship to see the new kitchen, the result of your generosity! We’ll be home immediately following second service so people don’t have to drive home before coming over (maybe give us a little lag-time to get ready for you). We’ll have maps out on the visitor kiosk (by the sermon CDs) and will probably wind things up around 4ish.

The most common question of the last few weeks is, what will I be doing on sabbatical? Well, Abby’s wedding June 17 is the big event (you are all invited), then some get-away time with Lisa and family, various DIY odds and ends around the house (which I enjoy). Also I have a stack of reading (the completion of which is doubtful) and an essay I’m writing for a collection.

But beneath all this, or hopefully woven through it all, is the desire to do something that is difficult for pastors to pull off: to have communion with God that is not required to be productive. You probably know that Paul’s statement in Php 3 resonates with me, “that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.” For most pastors, it’s almost impossible to study, contemplate, or pray without subconsciously considering the practical use of those disciplines in the Church. It’s easy to forget what it means, what it feels like, to simply know God and be known, to be more fully identified with him as Paul is describing above. I’m praying for that and looking forward to it.

Of course, if the Lord allows it, the result will be of value to the Church. In working with pastors I’ve found that relatively few ministers have the kind of longing for God that Paul has. For myself, I’m certainly farther from him than I would like to be. Richard Baxter used to say that he wished ministers’ hearts “were as orthodox as their heads.” That’s a perennial concern (Baxter lived in the 1600s).

I’ve forgotten the quote, but I’ve never forgotten the sentiment. It was basically the idea that a minister’s real work of communion with God can be captured in the idea of his journeying to a distant land, and each week he returns to his people transformed by, and filled with, the good news of that land. Not a bad image for a sabbatical. I would welcome prayers for that. I will miss you all and I look forward to returning in September. You’re in very good hands with Casey and the (stellar) officers God has given to us. I’m praying that God will do great things in my absence and would not be surprised to come back to a church changed for the better. I love you and will miss you.

— Eric