Sermon and Sabbatical

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This Sunday’s sermon was a tough one for me to give. It wasn’t so much the difficulty of the text (more on that in a moment), but more the opportunity I took to share my plan for sabbatical this fall.

To admit that I need rest and renewal is a tough thing to do. To admit that I need to have “ears to hear” the voice of the Spirit is even more embarrassing and revealing. I don’t know if “pastors” don’t like talking about these things, but I know its tough for me.

But it really was in preparing to teach this text (Matthew 13:1-9) that I discovered something profound about what Jesus invites us to do as he teaches us. And it will be foundational for me as I move into this next season. He invites us to be good listeners by asking good questions and sitting with those questions for awhile.

It was a tough thing this past week to simply let the parable in this passage do what it does. I wanted to skip ahead to later in the chapter when Jesus explains that this parable of the sower and the soils is not just a lesson in agriculture. I mean, after all, how infuriating would it be to get advice from a carpenter-turned-rabbi about farming?

But if we slow down enough, we come to see that parables provoke questions and feelings in us. And I am terrible at taking time to slow down enough to sit with my questions and feelings. I want the answers (or think I already have them). That’s what the Google is for, right? (Yes, the Google…)

So, beginning in October, I will be taking three months to sit with my questions and feelings. I need to reflect on the past years of ministry. So much has happened in my life in such a short span of time. I feel like I experienced growth spurts but the rest of me needs to catch up. I will be asking God what he is saying and then shut up and listen to him, rather than trying to finish sentences for him.

I will be seeing a spiritual director. I’ll be creating space for this seed of God to take root in me (or maybe even change the soil some). I’ll be investigating some questions I’ve had for awhile. I’ll be visiting some friends I haven’t seen in a long time. I’ll be practicing discernment with others. I’ll be reading and writing for me, not for others (a tough thing to do, for sure).

And, I’ll be shutting off the noise for awhile: social media, blogging, email, etc. In short, I’ll be seeking to have ears to hear.

I’ll be posting a bit more until that time with some more info about what I’ll be doing, but until then, if you are the praying type pray for me. If you aren’t, keep me in your thoughts.

Grace and Peace.

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