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Musings... On Sabbatical Plans!

Two weeks from today I will begin a period of sabbath and vacation. From May 1 to June 30, as per United Church policy, with the support of the local Ministry and Personnel Committee and approval of the Executive of Sackville United Church, I will be on sabbatical – a period of intentional rest, renewal, and reflection. And, from July 1 to August 3, I will be on vacation.

Now it may be the case, that you, like some members of my family, may be asking, ‘So what’s the difference between a sabbatical and a vacation…?’ Google is helpful here.

The most notable difference between a sabbatical and a vacation is its length: with a duration of up to a year or two, a sabbatical is much longer than your annual two weeks of paid vacation. This longer period gives you time to unwind, settle in, and recover both physically and mentally from your regular routines.

The United Church of Canada in one of its resources says this about sabbatical:

The essence of sabbatical is rooted in the biblical practice of the Sabbath day described in the creation story. Jesus kept this practice when he took time in his ministry for renewal. He often went away to pray and reflect in silence and meditation “on mountain tops and by lakesides.” The daily practice of ministry may involve the pressure of many tasks compressed into too few hours, leaving little opportunity for reflective, prayerful time. In the context of ministry, sabbatical time is for learning through reflection, revitalization, and recreation. It is, therefore, personal and individual in nature. It may include study, spiritual retreat, and rest and will probably be a blend of all of these.

In the United Church of Canada sabbaticals are a minimum of three months in duration. I took one of those months last year and will take the remaining two months beginning May 1st – and of course, the period of sabbath will include time of intentional study and reflection – and I’ll begin this activity even before the formal sabbatical begins! Here are some of the highlights:

On April 23rd and 24th I will be participating in Renew 2023, a retreat to nourish spiritual and leadership health, hosted by Church Anew. Speakers at this event will include Dr. Kate Bowler, Dr. Eric Barreto, Dr. Jacqueline Bussie, Rev. Angela Khabeb and Dr. Deanna Thompson.

From May 1 to 14 I will be travelling in the UK, touring England, Scotland, and Ireland as a means to shift into the period of sabbath. During this period, I hope to visit various churches and cathedrals, and historic locations and landmarks, and simply rest and read.

From May 15 to 18 I will participate in the Festival of Homiletics: Preaching Hope for a Weary World, during which I will have opportunity to hear lectures and sermons offered by a variety of some of the best preachers of our time: Anna Carter Florence, Michael Curry, Cynthia Hale, Otis Moss III, Will Willimon and Yvette Flunder.

From May 26 to 28 I will participate in the Annual Meeting of Regions East which will take place in Charlottetown, PE and from June 7 to 9 I will participate in ReVITALize Conference in Halifax, NS.

When not participating in the above events, I hope to be spending as much time as possible at our summer place on the Northumberland Strait, sitting on the deck, walking the beach, reading (at last count there are six on the pile) and enjoying the company of family and friends. Early in May I hope to build a couple of raised bed gardens so I can nurture growth in them over the summer months.

This period of sabbath and vacation will conclude with an epic journey along the west coast of North America travelling from Anchorage, Alaska to Vancouver, British Columbia and then home to Nova Scotia and back to the sanctity of this land and community – refreshed and renewed!

Next Sunday, during our Sunday Gathering I will reflect a bit more on what I hope to accomplish during the period of sabbath and share with you a few more tidbits about my travels.

And yes… I am counting the days – no, make that hours!

At time of publishing these Musings I am 336 hours until departure to the airport!



Looking Ahead

Today (April 17) I am at the Church for the morning and in Moncton for meetings in the afternoon. The day will move toward a conclusions with a pastoral visit at 3PM followed by dinner with Jenn and some members of the congregation.

Tuesday morning will begin with a breakfast hosted by Campbell’s Funeral Home in Amherst for local clergy – an appreciation breakfast! Thank you for this meal and the opportunity to share time with colleagues. Breakfast will be followed by two pastoral visits and after lunch I have a meeting at Dorchester Penitentiary to explore a possible initiative for the fall. This meeting will be followed by another at the Church at 4PM to explore how we can support families, youth and young adults by providing a gathering space for them. And at 6PM I have been invited to a Volunteer Recognition Event in Amherst where they tell me I’ve been nominated for an award.

I will be taking Wednesday morning off as I have pastoral visits and meetings scheduled from 1PM straight through until 8PM on both Wednesday and Thursday! Maybe I’ll get some work done in the yard! The Executive will meet on Wednesday evening from 6:30 until 8PM and on Thursday evening I will meeting with the Mission and Ministry Discernment Task Group from 6:30 to 8PM and then with the Ministry and Personnel Committee from 8 until 9PM. Thursday morning, following a meeting with the Trustees I will devote the rest of the day to writing a liturgy and reflection for Sunday.

Friday and Saturday will be days off. On Friday the tires on the truck will get changed over and I hope to make it to the Farmers Market on Saturday and take in one of the TerraSonga performances on Saturday afternoon.

On Sunday, following the Sunday Gathering Jenn and I and as many kids as we can fit in the car will head over the PEI where we will gather with other family members to mark my Mom’s 87th birthday (really her 88thbut her original birth certificate was lost in a fire and it’s replacement was issued with an error)! I am looking forward to seeing her racing around on her new mobility scooter!

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