Sabbaticals: Time to reflect and refresh

By The Rev. Cynthia Espeseth, St. Hilda-St. Patrick | Jun 19, 2013

Do you dream of having an extended time of rest and re-creation? A time when all you have to really think about is where you are with God, with your own spirit?

Jesus frequently took himself off to pray. He went up mountains, he walked along the shore, he stayed in places where people couldn’t find him.

He did this so that he could be with God. He did this so that his heart and spirit could be refreshed and renewed.

So many people were pulling and tugging at him, making demands. He needed some serious down time, just so he could catch his breath.

In a few short weeks, my congregation of St. Hilda St. Patrick and I will begin 16 weeks of an intentional time of renewal and refreshment. This is our sabbatical time, like the time that Jesus took.

A time to reflect, try new things, and examine and enquire who we are apart from each other.

Sabbatical and sabbaths share a common definition – they are a time set aside for the purpose of listening for God, praying and refreshing our souls. A time for re-creation.

Near the top of the list of the 10 Commandments, No. 4 says that we are to honor the Sabbath Day and keep it holy. God has commanded us to have one day to not work, but to pray and renew our spirits with God.

Every major religion has teachings about taking time away from the regular paces of the world to pray, think, reflect, and honor where we are with God, and where God is with us.

Taking an extended sabbath time to reflect, listen and discern is necessary for the life of the clergy and the life of the congregation.

Sabbaticals are not vacations, nor are they an opportunity to skip out on one’s commitment to the community. Rather they are the opposite and require a focused intention.

So my congregation and I will enter into a mutual time of listening and praying and refreshing our souls.

For the 16 weeks that I will be away from the church, I will be traveling, tending to my physical health as an athlete and competitive rower, and I will finally have the time to catch up on five years of reading!

I look forward to exploring other places of worship, without being the one in charge of the liturgy, and discovering new communities of faith.

The congregation will have this sabbath time to discover more about their ministry as Christians, and their identity as a community that proclaims the gospel of God’s love in the world.

They will have a visiting priest and specialist in congregational spiritual direction to help them step back to see what is strong and good in themselves that can be used to help God create a better world.

They will be praying about, discerning and playing with being intentional followers of Jesus.

If you are curious what a community taking a sabbath is like, please join us on any Sunday morning at 9:30. We welcome all seekers and inquirers!

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