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Sabbaticalogue Wk. 1 – Wrestling with Resting

For those of you who regularly read my bi-weekly blogs, bless you. I’m a writer at heart and appreciate your ear and faithfulness in reading. For the next twelve weeks though, I’m going to break from my usual writing pattern and invite you on my Sabbatical journey. Each week I’ll be sharing my experiences, thoughts, and discoveries as I step outside of my day to day schedule. This is the first Sabbatical travelogue entry. Let’s just call it my ‘Sabbaticalogue.”

I realize I may be over-promising a bit here, but this is my eager attempt to keep you, the reader, engaged with me, the writer, all summer. So, I welcome you to join me as I sojourn.

A sabbatical is supposed to be a season of rest and renewal. That I know intellectually, but it’s a hard lesson for me to learn emotionally. Even within the first few days of my cessation from work, I’m finding myself wanting to organize my daily rest schedule.

7:30 - 8:00 am—Devotions
8:00 -10:00 am—Read and Reflect
10:00 am – noon—Hike with Laura
Noon - 2:00 pm—Continue Reading

You get the point.

I’ve been looking forward to this sabbatical for 27 years (sort of), and now that it’s here, I’m wrestling with resting. How does one truly rest? I don’t think God rested from His six days of creation because He was tired. He rested, ceased, desisted (the meaning of shabbat), because of completion. The work was done; it was time to stop, smell the roses (which He had just created) and celebrate.

I’m encouraged by this understanding of God resting on the seventh day (Genesis 2:3) because it gives greater purpose to sabbath than just lying around eating M & M’s (although I’ve done some of that, too). And that’s how I can wrap my mind around twelve weeks of cessation from work—not laziness, slothfulness, or any of those negative meanings of “not working.” It is possible to have cessation from one thing in order to have celebration and vivacity in another.

One of our E91 elders reminded me before I left town that although I am retreating from work, I should not retreat from community. I agree. I just finished reading Bonhoeffer’s My Soul Finds Rest, which is a compilation of his sermons and reflections on the Psalms. In the prologue, he writes, “The only way to understand the Psalms is on your knees, the whole congregation praying the words of the Psalms with all its strength.”

One of the Psalms I am trying to understand these next few months is Psalm 131 in which the psalmist writes, “I have calmed and quieted my soul” (verse 2). I invite you to join me this summer as we pray those words together with all our strength.

Calm and quiet our souls, O Lord, that we might rest in Thee and then work for Thy great pleasure. Amen.

Posted by Rick Grover, Lead Pastor with

Be, Do, Go – Sabbatical 2019

sabbatical | səˈbadək(ə)l |
a period of paid leave granted to a university teacher or other worker for study or travel, traditionally one year for every seven years worked: she's away on sabbatical | he requested permission to take a sabbatical in Istanbul | he took a three-month sabbatical from his job as CEO of a family business.

I just learned a great time-management strategy the other day from one of my mentors in the faith, LeRoy Lawson:

            Step One: Determine what is important.
            Step Two: Do that.
            Step Three: Determine what is unimportant
            Step Four: Don’t do that.

This summer I have the opportunity to practice that strategy. After serving for seven years as the Lead Pastor of East 91stStreet Christian Church, I will be taking a three-month sabbatical. Our elders have been most gracious by telling me, “Determine what is important, and do that.” What is important this summer is rest, renewal and recalibration. And what is unimportant? Just about everything else, and it’s time not to do that.

My sabbatical plans include several weeks where Laura and I will simply “be”—be present together to rest. Then we will “do”—serve with an E91 team in Ecuador and then in Chile with one of our ministry partners, Iberoamerican Ministries ( Lastly, I will “go”—spend 32 days on a pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago  in Spain.

Beginning next week, my blogs will take on a new focus. Instead of writing twice a week, I’ll cut back to a weekly blog that will be published every Thursday or Friday. And instead of writing about matters of life, faith, family, leadership, and whatever else is on my heart, I’ll be writing about my travels and what God is teaching me. My hope is that as you read my weekly blogs through the summer, you will not only know where I am and how I am, but you will see through my eyes and learn what I learn so that we may grow together.

For those of you who are part of the E91 family, know that through the summer our ministries, outreach, and discipleship will not miss a beat. You’ll be hearing from three of my favorite guest speakers along with some of our amazing E91 pastors. A sabbatical is not only healthy for the one taking it but also for those staying behind. This will give our church family the opportunity to “step up” while I “step out,” and be reminded that the church is far more about Jesus and far less about any one individual.

So, enjoy your summer, and I look forward to our journey of being, doing, and going. And while we’re at it, why not try the above time-management strategy in your life?

Posted by Rick Grover, Lead Pastor with

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