At the end of every seven years you shall grant a release.

Deuteronomy 15:1

Cathedral Family,

By the grace and kindness of this Cathedral Church and her Vestry, my family and I have been given the opportunity to take a three-month sabbatical this summer, June 19th-September 19th.  I can’t communicate fully how grateful we are for this.  This June 15th, will mark the 8th anniversary of me coming to the Cathedral to serve as your Dean and Rector.  What joy fills my heart as I think of you and our years of ministry together!

Like any ministry, it has been a time of great thrills, but also great challenges.  There have been so many things for which I praise and thank the Lord and there have been plenty of things that have caused me to fall on my knees in prayer to the Lord for his grace and his forgiveness.  Through it all, God has been faithful, and we have seen him do miraculous things.  He is infinite in his power and perfect in his strength.  I, on the other hand, am not.

I know this is no surprise to you, but it is always a good idea for a pastor to remind himself and those he shepherds of this crucial fact.  A pastor is an earthen vessel that has cracks and those cracks sometimes grow under the pressure of ministry.  God knows how frail and flawed human beings are and of their ever-present need to be re-created.  That’s what the weekly commandment for Sabbath rest is all about, but it is also what the commandment in Deuteronomy 15 for the “Sabbatical Year” is also about.  The frail and the fragile earthen vessels need to be re-created by the Potter’s hand and Sabbatical provides the discipline to God’s people to be released for this purpose.

What is a Sabbatical?

Some may look at a sabbatical and assume that it is an extended vacation.  Now, it’s true that I will vacate my day-to-day activities as Dean and Rector, but this is not a time for me to simply stop doing the job for a few months.  It is a time for my family and me to enjoy true “re-creation.”  My prayer is that the Lord will do a wonderful work of re-creation and re-fashioning of me as a man and as a pastor so that I can return on September 20th with renewed vigor and vision for our next season of life together at the Cathedral Church of St. Luke and St. Paul.

What will I do on Sabbatical?

My hope for this sabbatical is for re-creation in four main areas: marriage, family life, Spiritual devotion, and leadership.  Rest, travel, play, prayer, reading, and relational connection and enrichment will be what “gets done” during the sabbatical.  I will rest from the day-to-day of my life as a Rector with the constancy of being “on” and moving between the countless diverse tasks that require countless diverse intelligences.

My regular phone and email will be turned off, and I will not be physically present at the Cathedral, if I can help it.  With the space that this affords, I will seek to be intentional rather than reactionary and delight in and serve better my wife, my children, my vocation, and my Lord.

What will you do on Sabbatical?

This sabbatical is not for my family and me exclusively, but it is also for the whole Cathedral family.  The Lord has great plans for all of us during this sabbatical time.  I trust that new opportunities will arise for others to lead and serve in the ministry areas I have normally covered.

I also hope that you will consider ways that you can take intentional Sabbath rest during these months.  Perhaps you can take a regular break from technology or a frenetic work pace.  Maybe you can choose to schedule a bit less than you usually have in summers past and use that extra time to spend some intentional time with those that you love.

I would also ask for your prayers for Jenny, Mae, Ellen, Bo, and me while we are away.  Please pray that the Lord will do his supernatural work of re-creation in us, and you can be assured of our prayers for the same in your lives individually and in the corporate life of our beloved Cathedral Church.

Again, thank you from the bottom of my heart for this immensely good gift of a sabbatical.  I will surely miss you while I’m gone.

Peace in Christ Jesus,