As a way of embracing our value of practicing sustainable rhythms we provide a sabbatical for every employee after seven years of full-time employment at Mill City. As this is our seventh year as a church, starting May 20, I will begin a three-month sabbatical. I truly want to do what I am doing in an effective and healthy way for the rest of my life, and this is an important part of making that happen. My family and I will be away for much of the summer and I will be completely disconnecting from all work activities with the intention of being more fully present to God, myself, and my family. In the words of Henri Nouwen, sabbatical is a “creative withdrawal” for rest and refueling. I am so grateful for friends and overseers who encouraged this, a church that makes this possible, such a strong team to lead the way in my absence, and a community that is ultimately led by Jesus.
Developing a weekly rhythm of work and rest is a God designed pattern that contributes to emotional health and spiritual vibrancy. Learning to take a weekly Sabbath has been one of the most important spiritual practices in my apprenticeship to Jesus. In Matthew He says,
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:28-30 (Message)
Sabbath develops a rhythm that enables us to live into this beautiful invitation from Jesus. To stop is to acknowledge God’s work, our limits, and His sustaining grace. I can’t encourage you enough to develop a habit of Sabbath if you don’t already have one.
For more on this subject I recommend The Rest of God by Mark Buchanan, Sabbath by Abraham Heschel, and Subversive Sabbath by A.J. Swoboda.