For many years our congregation has offered its pastors a twelve-week sabbatical every four years. According to our Handbook, pastoral sabbaticals have three purposes:
- Develop and enrich specific skills.
- Provide refreshing change and new experiences for the pastor.
- Provide time and space for reflection and a broader view of the congregation so that the pastor may return with a greater awareness of how his or her gifts may better be used by God in service to the congregation.
To work at these purposes, this summer I learned more about the biblical practice of Sabbath by reading three books: Walter Brueggemann’s Sabbath as Resistance: Saying No to the Culture of Now, Abraham Joshua Heschel’s The Sabbath, and Bryan P. Stone and Claire E. Wolfteich’s Sabbath in the City: Sustaining Urban Pastoral Excellence. I also successfully observed a full 24-hour Sabbath every Sunday during the sabbatical. Eventually I may prepare a few sermons on Sabbath-keeping.
Finally, I completed the first draft of a manuscript tentatively entitled The Perceptive Eye, which focuses on the spiritual practice of contemplative gazing. In the coming year or so I hope to revise this manuscript and begin working with a publisher. Thank you for having a sabbatical policy that helps your pastors to learn and grow.
~ Dan Schrock