Today’s Word from Pastor Jim…
Sabbaticals in the church, and in higher education, have a long history. For six years I served as the Chair of Academic Affairs at Luther Seminary and our committee regularly reviewed and approved sabbatical proposals. In the ELCA sabbaticals are recommended for clergy every seven years. The word “sabbatical” comes from the same root as “sabbath.” In the creation story, God rested on the seventh day of creation. The idea of resting one day a week came from God and became more commonplace after the 10 Commandments came down off Mount Sinai.
This past week the Church Council surprised me by honoring the 35th anniversary of my ordination. On July 27,1986 I stood at the altar in DeKalb, Illinois and took vows. The vows were taken in the same church, and in the same spot, where four years earlier Felicia and I had exchanged marriage vows. In both cases we had no idea what we were signing on for.
We learned very early that we could not take time off and stay home. The demands of parish ministry made that nearly impossible. If someone dies it is not permissible to say, “Sorry, it is my day off.” If a crisis arises among the 1,300 people that we serve, or their neighbors, cousins, grandchildren, pets, or computers, the calling of God is to offer them compassion and assistance. If you are on the island you are working, and it is an absolute privilege to live in a small community and to be in service to others.
My first sabbatical came after 15 years of ministry in the Fall of 2001. In the years that followed the parish continued to grow, calling and retaining staff was a real challenge, my children went to college and grew up, I served 15 years at Luther Seminary, and was called to help Trinity College in Everett close her doors after 72 years of service.
The Church Council approved a sabbatical for 2015. That sabbatical will be happening this fall. Felicia and I will be getting off the island, reconnecting with each other, taking time off from crisis, leadership, pandemic politics, and the seven-day-a-week grind of parish ministry.
“And I hereby decree that until what time, if any, that I return, the scarecrow, by virtue of his superior brain, shall rule in my stead.” Could not help myself — a Wizard of Oz quote.
We will be coming back! We will leave the island around the first of October, and we will be returning in early January. When we are gone the TLC staff and Church Council will continue to lead. A group of strong preachers will bring God’s word to you on Sunday mornings. Our Bishop and our Assistant to the Bishop will each take a turn preaching as they visit TLC.
We will continue to be the church together.
On the seventh day God rested. Rest is good for all of us. Rest allows us time to recharge our batteries for continued service.
Rally Day is Sunday, September 12, this year. On Sunday, September 19, we will gather at the M Bar C Ranch in Freeland for an all-church hoe down picnic.
We are in this together as we move forward in faith.