In just a few months I have the gift and privilege of taking a sabbatical. And believe it or not, this has yet to fully sink in. There are not many professional realms where people are encouraged to step-away from their workplaces to focus on reflecting, replenishing and renewing their hearts and minds for their work. But that is what a sabbatical is intended to do and why it is such a gift. As Jesus said, Sabbath was made for us because, God knows, we need it. (Mark 2:27)
The other joy was being awarded a grant through the Lilly Endowment Clergy Renewal Foundation. The proposal I submitted, with the help of Snowden Stanley, Sr. Warden and the Vestry, is built around the theme of contemplative leadership. This March will be my tenth anniversary of ordination and the longer I serve as a pastoral leader, the more I grow in the truth that it really all is in God's hands. I'm hopeful my journeys, paired with periods of reflection; as well as the programs that will happen at Good Shepherd, will deepen our trust in prayerful leadership and engagement as we move forward in where God is calling us in the years ahead.
My sabbatical begins in 2018 on Monday, February 5th and I return to Good Shepherd on Wednesday, May 2nd. Each month I will be taking a trip and then returning home where I can spend more time with my daughter, deepen our connections to Baltimore, and explore other faith communities and their worship. It was intentional to take sabbatical during the seasons of Lent and Easter without the responsibilities of liturgical leadership, so that I could also reconnect with the joy of being a person in a pew!
For the travels, I will be in Sedona, AZ for a few days in February for a spiritual wellness retreat. In March I am thrilled to be able to travel to Paris, France with Dorothea for a first-ever mom and daughter adventure! And in April I will take a pilgrimage led by The Shalem Institute, "Following in the Footsteps of St. Francis and St. Clare" to Assisi, Italy.
Here at Good Shepherd, the Rev. Jessica Sexton will be supported not only through our strong lay-leadership but there will also be visiting priests to assist on Sundays. In Lent, Jewish scholar, Benjamin Sax from the Institute for Islamic Christian and Jewish Studies will lead a two-part Lenten program on Sabbath, specifically the historical and theological Jewish perspective. Hopefully this will enrich our understanding of our Judeo-Christian faith, and maybe even inspire some new ways of "giving up" during Lent.
As I said, this sabbatical is a privilege and gift for which I am most grateful. Grateful for church leadership that recognizes the need for renewal to ensure clergy wellness, grateful for the officers and vestry members who are supportive and encouraging of this time away, grateful for Jessica's ministry and leadership, and grateful for the Body of Christ that is the Church of the Good Shepherd. Our faith community is a vibrant and self-sustaining congregation that brings the love of God, in so many ways, into the hearts and homes of so many - myself included. In Peace, Arianne+