10 Jun Let’s Talk Sabbatical!
“Running the race” turns out to be an apt theme for this summer, as I am now racing the clock, trying to get ready for the start of the sabbatical. My “to do” list is lengthy, and I am working diligently to get each item done. It feels a little like seeing obstacles ahead of me on the racecourse and overtaking each one in its turn to make it to the finish line on time. There is a lot to communicate to you over the next month, so that you can feel comfortable and confident in the plan that is left in place. Keep watching and reading this space, as I will be sharing the myriad details week by week.
First, let me start by saying, “Wow!!” The line-up of guest preachers for the sabbatical is full of All-Stars! We have recruited the “A Team” so that each week, you are in for a dynamite worship experience. Reverend Carrie Yearick will preach seven times, including all three Communion Sundays that I am away, giving you continuity and stability. Carrie is an “extrovert’s extrovert.” She loves people, will feed off your energy, and by the end of October, she will know most of your names. She is a “high octane” preacher, fun, funny, big-hearted, and creative, with a deep passion for worship and for the Church’s mission to share the love of Christ with our neighbors. Carrie is a dear friend of more than 20 years and one of the main reasons I am a pastor. She is the first female I ever heard preach, and her example and encouragement prodded me to consider that God might be doing a new thing in my life. Because of her, I was able to hear God’s voice calling me to ministry in a way I never imagined.
In addition to Carrie, you will hear from another high-octane preacher who is involved in campus ministry as the Director of Community and Spiritual Growth at George Mason University; an active-duty army chaplain who was recently assigned to Ft. Belvoir after a tour at Arlington National Cemetery; an author, life-coach, pastor, and student and master of Improv; and National Capital Presbytery’s General Presbyter, Rev. John Molina-Moore. Our own Gene Kendall will preach and lead worship for two Sundays and last, but certainly not least, Elder Andy Clay will deliver a sermon one Sunday, as well.
Friends, fasten your seat belts. These men and women are exceptional preachers from all walks and stages of life, and each will bring a unique perspective to understanding the Gospel. Having one pastor for a long time (I will celebrate my 9th anniversary at Calvary on July 11th!) can be a blessing for a church. It offers a sense of dependability and solid footing from which a church can then take a broader view of purpose and mission.
But there is also a tremendous gift in hearing different voices, of having a minister lead worship, read, pray, or preach in a way that is new to us. That shift, whether big or small, can open the scripture for us in exciting, fresh ways, can make space for startling new “aha” moments, can bless us with discovery and joy.
I am leaving you in strong, capable hands, and frankly, I hate to miss it! Please, please do not think of the sabbatical as a good excuse to “take off” from church. Not only would that dishonor the guests who are coming to share their gifts with you, it would also dishonor one another and the vital importance of being in community together.
If you have learned anything at all about me over the past nine years, it probably includes the fact that I am a “planner” through and through. I have “the sabbatical plan” which includes plans, back-up plans, and back-up plans for the back-up plans. The Sabbatical plan has a section for each Ministry Team (worship, congregational care, Christian education, etc), and next week I will share more details about who is covering what. My hope is that you will quickly see that the sabbatical is not just something for me to celebrate. It’s for our entire church. It offers us all a chance for renewal, for recommitting to one another as a family of faith, and for seizing and enjoying opportunities to serve and encourage one another in new ways.
Yours for the Kingdom,