October 3, 2013

Sabbath-keeping. It is a Biblical mandate – listed as one of the 10 Commandments – and yet, it is something often antithetical to the ever-increasing speed of today’s society. It is hard to get in a full day of Sabbath every week – even though God models this behavior. We are constantly bombarded with more work to do, more family/home obligations to tend to, and more great experiences to pack into our overly busy schedules. Life in the 21st century is good, but life in the 21st century is busy – too busy.

Having completed 14 years of ministry at Lakeshore, I have been granted a threemonth sabbatical from January through March of 2014. I look forward to practicing Sabbath, rediscovering this important part of the life God intended for all creation.

I have been taught that there are four main pillars of Sabbath: ceasing, resting, embracing and feasting: ceasing from the busyness of daily life; resting both the body and the soul; embracing the goodness of life; and feasting on all that is around me.

With this in mind, I have three goals for my sabbatical. First and foremost, I look forward to resting – to ceasing from a busy schedule of important obligations and embracing (and feasting on) the goodness of life separate from my identity as a pastor. Second, I plan to visit Germany, the place where I was living when I received my call to ministry. I trust that I will encounter God in new and significant ways while revisiting this sacred place and time in my past. While in Germany, I will spend some time with Whitley Joachim, who is studying there for the school year. Third (time and energy permitting), I want to dust off my dissertation and use the material to write a book proposal. It was always my hope that my research would ultimately benefit other American Baptist pastors; this lets me take a step forward in that process.

The goal of Sabbath-keeping is to rest and restore us for the work that God has given us to do. Even as I anticipate a time of rest from my ministry at Lakeshore, I look forward to returning well rested and refreshed to begin another season of ministry.