I knew, as soon as I committed to taking a Sabbatical, that I was in over my head.
It was my first sabbatical in 45 years of working full-time. It was my first ministry sabbatical in 33 years. I thought that fact was rather curious. Nevertheless, I made the decision, got my ducks in a row, set the dates (July 31 – October 31 — a “three-month sabbatical”) and charted my course and established my goals.
Early was some fellowship time with my dear friend, Dr. Reuben van Rensburg, who has just recently retired from his ministry as President of the South African Theological Seminary. Reuben and I have been great friends since I first met him in Atlanta a decade ago. Each time he returns to the US, he makes a stop in Atlanta, and I am his host. We drove to Chattanooga and I occupied myself with some personal interests and visits while he worked in a conference with a new international project in ministerial training.
Part of my time was devoted to working on my family ancestry, including visiting some historical sites. It was an interesting time to visit historical sites here in the South, as some of my family served in the Army of the Confederate States of America. I highlighted my time of rest with a few moments of reflection at each of their grave sites. The monuments of the early twentieth century (which is when they passed, having been in their twenties during the war) are beautiful — hand-carved marble and granite, etched with beautiful verse through which their families (our families) proclaimed their love and devotion. Memories.
The academic focus of my sabbatical, which seems somewhat obligatory for folks like me who have served in higher education for our careers, was two-fold. I named these topics, not knowing where I was going with either. The first I called “the Residue of the Seven Sacraments in Protestant Faith and Practice”. The second I tried to make a little more contemporary as an issue: “The Quandary of Evangelicals in Promoting the Gospel in the Digital Age.” As I am wrapping up my study over the next two weeks, I have in mind that I may consider writing two books. I also have in mind that I won’t. But the working titles are as follow: (a) Too Good for Priests, and (b) Is The Message in THAT Medium?
While readers of this blog or my other digital compositions may read more about the topics in the weeks and months (and years?) to come, I will let these settle in for a bit and see how the Lord orders my steps and my pen (and my fingers on the keyboard.)
Jocelyn is joining me as I conclude my sabbatical, which is only appropriate as the final day of this season of rest is Halloween, which is preceded by her birthday on October 30. We are off on a road trip — a huge sacrifice for her, since she does not care too much for rides longer than about 90 minutes. We will probably register a decade of 90-minute drives in this trip.
Speaking of decades: the highlight of this sabbatical has been my growth in deeper devotion to the Rosary. I may also share more about that as I move forward. I am grateful to my ministries for affording me the time to take this rest. Christian College of Georgia and the Mission for Biblical Literacy have been gracious. I believe both will benefit from my time away…if they haven’t already!
Whew. Isn’t the Sabbath supposed to be about REST? I think I missed the mark.
Picture Credit: By Martin Falbisoner