As the year closes this is my last piece for the paper for now as I am about to begin a three month sabbatical. Clergy are encouraged to take a break and the rule of thumb is every ten years. The idea is that we stay fresh and having a change helps.
It is meant as an opportunity for rest, to disengage from the normal routine of things, but also to explore an area of interest which can help to inform our ministry and calling. The rigours of parish ministry are demanding in all sorts of ways and sometimes need more refreshing than a simple holiday can provide. It is a chance to recalibrate and ensure one’s spiritual compass is functioning right. It is better to do it when the engine is firing on all cylinders than to wait for something to go bang necessitating a rebuild!
It does mean that the church suddenly have to fend for themselves without their captain, but albeit for a fixed time. It should help to give that church a greater confidence that they do not simply rely upon one person to maintain its life. But it is about change and largely speaking, no one likes change.
It is a trait of human nature that we generally speaking prefer stability. There is something tremendously encouraging about familiarity, be it in routines or in the people around and places we go. I am definitely one who likes familiarity. The number of times I have had to stop my wife from getting rid of that old, slightly tatty, but comfortable jumper! (How many men can relate to that?)
But change is inevitable. Time itself is change. We get older and here we are as the calendar flicks over to another year. Our bodies change as we age and we have to learn to adapt to those changes. It is rather sad to see those who seek to plaster over the cracks of the effects of time, although some rearguard action is totally fine! Learning to accept inevitable change is part of the art of living contentedly.
My sabbatical will be looking at Church unity. I have learned that there are 25,000 Christian denominations in the world. Jesus said we should be as one, so what’s gone wrong? I feel that it will be an interesting and challenging journey which I am not quite sure where it will take me. It’s quite exciting!
So on the cusp of this New Year I hope and pray that for all of us we shall allow ourselves to be changed into better people and more able to fulfil our calling and place in life. Happy New Year!