Why sabbatical rest for the church?

The Church’s beliefs and practices concerning the rest, delight, blessing, healing, holiness, and mercy of the Sabbath are rooted deeply in scripture:

  • Creation (Gen 2; Ex 20)
  • Israel (Ex 16, 20; Lev 25; Num 15; Dt 5; Is 58; Jer 17; Neh 10)
  • Jesus (Mt 11, 12; Mk 2; Lk 4; Jn 5)
  • Church (Jn 20; Acts 20; 1 Cor 16; Rev 1)
  • New Creation (Heb 4; Rev 21-22)

Academic institutions have led the way in providing periods of sabbatical for professors, and business institutions are beginning to see the benefits of sabbaticals for executives as well. But what is a sabbatical in the church context?

A church’s sabbatical rest is a time for rest, reflection, and refocus. It is time given to a church to have a break from the responsibilities of committee work and busy-ness of the church year. A church sabbatical rest is more than a long vacation or a “shutting –down.” Rather it is a time of rest and re-connection in new, a time for the “body” to recharge its batteries and get away from the stress and demands of church life, while re-connecting in ordinary and less demanding ways.

Just as our weekly Sabbath is important to our personal weekly schedules, a church’s time of sabbatical rest is necessary for the health of the church. It is not only necessary for the spiritual, mental, emotional, physical and relational health of the body, but it gives the “community of faith” the opportunity to be refreshed and renewed, while protecting them from burnout and thereby investing in the future health of our church.

The NWYM Local Church Care Committee shared with those gathered at our last business meeting that SFC is entering this time of “sabbatical rest” over the summer months from June 1st through Labor Day. This does not mean we stop gathering on Sunday mornings to worship together, but rather come together with less focus on work and an intentional effort to “breathe together” again.

My prayer is that we will take the summer months to seek the Lord’s will for SFC. To rest, reconnect in new ways (backyard BBQs, at the park or garden, or in our neighborhoods and communities), recharge those batteries and find refreshment and renewal in all that God has given us as a community. And when we do gather this summer on Sunday mornings that it would be a time to remember how important each of us are to the greater work and ministry of Silverton Friends Church.

Grace and peace,
Pastor Bob+

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