Dear First Pres,
A few years ago the Session (our leadership board) decided to create a sabbatical policy for our church pastors. For many years, if I understand the story correctly, FPC has offered sabbaticals to pastors (and other staff) when they really needed it - when they were feeling burned out, especially tired, or spiritually out of sorts. But the Session decided that sabbaticals shouldn't be a way to respond to those things. Instead, sabbaticals should be used to prevent those things. Sabbaticals are meant to bring spiritual renewal and whole-life (mind, body, spirit, and relational) refreshment. They are a wonderful and generous gift to the pastors, and when a church's pastors experience renewal and refreshment everybody wins. In other words, a proactive sabbatical policy for our pastors should reap long-term healthy benefits for the congregation. So, the new policy stated that after six full years of ministry, a three-month sabbatical would be available for our pastors.
When the policy was created, Pastor Lana was immediately eligible. She has served as one of FPC's pastors since September 2006. And now, from September 10 - December 9, 2018, she is taking her first sabbatical. While Pastor Lana is away, our privilege will be to pray that God uses this special time to do a powerful work of renewal and refreshment in her life.
One of the ways that we'll keep that prayer fresh in our minds is with a new sermon series that is starting this weekend. "Rest." That's the simple name of the new series. From the very formation of God's people in the wilderness, rest has been an identifying mark of His Community. Not just physical rest, but even more, spiritual rest. And, from the very formation of God's people in the wilderness, a pattern of struggle in this area has emerged.
We live in a crazy, hurried, microwave, Google search, smartphone world. We don't have to wait for the morning newspaper to find out what happened in the world. We don't have to wait until someone is home to give them a call. Everything seems to be getting faster, and everyone seems to be getting busier.
The Gospel offers something different, something that our world desperately needs, something that we desperately need. The Gospel offers rest.
So, while Pastor Lana is leaning into a season set aside for renewal and refreshment, I pray that we will learn to find rest, Gospel rest, in the midst of everyday life with Christ.