What will you be doing on your sabbatical?
That’s one of the questions I am hearing a lot these days! This blog post is intended to fill you in on what my plan for sabbatical time is.
Sabbatical Theme: A deeper relationship with Jesus
A sabbatical is the opportunity to get back to the core of one’s vocation and ministry – to reconnect with why I’m here and what’s most important about what I’m doing. In preparing for this sabbatical, I spent some time reflecting on what’s most important in ordained ministry today, and what the church needs to be doing to be ready for the future God is sending us.
After thinking a lot about the role of priest as mentor and coach who helps develop the ministry of others, I realized that the core of that mentoring and coaching is really helping people develop their own personal relationship with Jesus. Without Jesus, after all, the church wouldn’t exist or have mission and purpose.
In the busy-ness that we all experience in our daily lives and our church involvement, it is very easy to get distracted by the work of maintaining the institution of the church, and mentoring lay leaders only to become good “church members” who help protect and extend that institution. But that’s not really what the church is for. Church is for helping people become disciples of Jesus, the risen Christ. It is, of course, impossible to help people become followers of Christ unless I myself am living that out as intentionally as I can.
Thus, my plan for this sabbatical time is to nurture and deepen my own relationship with Jesus through extensive New Testament study, prayer in the Ignatian tradition that focuses on the life of Christ, and a trip to the Holy Land where Jesus walked.
One thing I’ve learned from parish ministry is that it’s not what you do, it’s who you are. A minister can have many ideas for Bible study and worship and outreach, but they will have no effect if the minister is not living a life rooted in God’s love. I want to continue to try to be that kind of person—a person of prayer showing Jesus’s love and compassion to the world. Any transformation in me will also help to transform those I serve.
It’s my firm belief that in deepening our connection to Jesus, the church will be renewed for the challenges that face us in the 21st century. I hope that in deepening my own relationship with Jesus, I will be renewed for ministry at the Church of Our Redeemer.
August 15th to 25th: The Ekrem family will be taking a “road trip” vacation. Our plan is to take the kids to all the places Dave and I have lived on the East Coast; from Connecticut and Pennsylvania where I grew up, to New York City where Dave and I met and were first married, and then to the various towns where Peter, Tom and Lucy were born (and the churches where they were baptized).
Early September: After getting the kids settled into a new school year, I’ll be going on a one week backpacking trip to the White Mountains, a reprise and continuation of a trip I took on my last sabbatical. I’ll be going with the same hiking partner, my seminary classmate. We will be keeping silence on the trail during the day, talking only at night at our campsite.
September and October: I will be taking a class at a local seminary on the New Testament, and doing some private study to refresh my New Testament Greek. I plan to spend at least an hour in daily prayer and Bible study, and study the Exercises of St. Ignatius, a meditation on the life of Christ.
November: I will be taking a two-week study course at St. George’s College in Jerusalem called “The Palestine of Jesus”. We will visit the holy sites associated with Jesus’ life and study them from both an academic and spiritual perspective. St. George’s College is an institution of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem. I will be travelling with a clergy friend from my retreat group.
December: My first Sunday back at Redeemer will be December 7.
Follow Kate’s Blog
If you want to follow along on my spiritual journey, I will be keeping in touch via the Clergy Blog right here on our parish web site. You can subscribe to get regular email updates.