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More Reflections on a Sabbatical

But in the seventh year there shall be a sabbath of complete rest for the land, a sabbath for the LORD… Leviticus 25:4a


Dear Friends in Christ,


Last Sunday after worship, I shared with those gathered stories and photos from my sabbatical (and a few stories about my non-sabbatical trips in the Grand Canyon). If you missed it and are curious, click here to watch a video of the presentation. I enjoyed sharing many of my experiences, but I thought it might be helpful to add some summary comments in this email. My plan was to do some writing (a commentary on “the Bible’s Greatest Hits”), spend some time in ministry with Fr. Ramon Betances at St. Jude’s in Smyrna, have some pilgrimage and travel time both to my roots and to new places (especially a trip with my wife to France, including Mont St. Michel and the religious community at Taize). And to rest—rest with God.


This was a chance to re-ground myself as a child of God—my first calling before my calling as a priest. Extended distance helped that process. And engaging with new brothers and sisters in Christ in new places was a blessing. From the French communities in which we worshipped, to the international communities at St. Jude’s (among both the Spanish speakers and English speakers), I had a glimpse of Pentecost, and the place for us within that great cloud of witnesses. I was reminded, especially on returning home to St. Peter & St. Paul, how important our personal connections are to each other in the church. You are a blessing to me, and you share God’s blessings with each other as you grow closer to God together, and reach out to others to draw them into these relationships.


The Christian sabbath both completes what God has created, and in light of our new life in Christ, looks ahead. What is ahead for us (especially after this strange pandemic-imposed sabbath)? We will see what God has for us. I hope that we will do more in partnership with St. Jude’s. And I hope that we will more deeply engage in the Christian life with each other. I pray that God stirs up in us a hunger for Christian fellowship, new energy for Christian ministry, and most of all, a renewed commitment to placing our Lord at the center of our lives, above all the counterfeits around us and in us. That centering—that grounding—will hold us steady as we go, helping us to trust in God and look for and find his blessings in our lives.


I pray that each sabbath you will find that same rest in God, that same re-creation and reconnection in the body of Christ, and that same vision for a future with God together.


Yours in Christ,


-Tom

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