Remembering Who I Am // Sabbatical // Pastor Sara Wolbrecht // May 2017
At Salt House, one of the central practices we return to is asking the questions:
What is God saying to me?
What am I going to do about it?
We see these two questions as central to living the life of Jesus. Inherent in asking these questions is the accompanying practice of being people who listen. People who intentionally make room for hearing God.
Which means we are also people of Sabbath. The practice of Sabbath – which means “to cease striving; to rest” – include the daily, weekly, monthly, and annual rhythms we carve out to STOP. To stop the work of striving, in order to hear God.
In order to remember who we are.
Salt House is part of the ELCA, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Being a part of the ELCA, comes with many blessings – and one of those blessings is that pastors get a Sabbatical. Time for Sabbath. Every seven years, pastors have three months of sabbatical – three months off to cease striving. To rest. To remember who we are.
My friends, I get a sabbatical. May 15th through August 15th. Which means for these three months I won’t be here! I will do no work for Salt House. I won’t check my email. I won’t come to church on Sundays. I will cease.
It’s happening now, because when I said YES to being the pastor for this new thing in Kirkland, I walked away from my former church in California right as I completed seven years of service. I forfeited my sabbatical because pastors start over at zero when they move to a new church. But the amazing pastors and church council at Salt House’s parent congregation, Holy Spirit Lutheran – when they heard that I forfeited my sabbatical – offered me a sabbatical in 2017. They would cover the pastoral responsibilities, at no extra cost to Salt House. I am overwhelmingly grateful for their generosity, and their own value of the practice of Sabbath.
Transitions like this – even just for three months – can raise anxiety for folks individually or collectively as a community. If you feel this response rise up in you (or even if it does not) I want to say two things. First a word of reminder that we here at Salt House hold experimentation as a central part of who we are. We try new things! And this is something new we get to try, right? What’s it like when Pastor Sara’s not here?
Second, I want to offer an invitation to all y’all, an invitation to see how you might show up in these three months to receive blessing and to be a blessing. Here’s what I mean: frankly, pastors have a habit of trying to do all the things. News flash: over-functioning like that is absolutely my jam. Yet at Salt House we also hold as central to who we are, that everybody has something to offer. We believe that we are blessed to be a blessing, and that absolutely holds true to how we show up here in community. To bless and serve.
So I ask you: are you up for embracing this experiment and looking for how you can be a blessing and fill in the gaps that you see? This time will be a gift for Salt House – as all of our experiments have been, as we discover new bounds by which we can love and engage with God, each other, and our neighborhood.
The additional blessing in this is that Pastor Katy McCallum Sachse, from HSLC, she will be here to rock it as your pastor during my Sabbatical. Preaching, leading worship, available during the week. She is your pastor – reach out if you need support. Jason and our key leaders will still be here, too – so much of our Sunday experience of Salt House will feel the same.
The other reason this is a blessing to Salt House is, honestly, because this will help me to be a better leader, a better pastor for y’all. I must tell you: Salt House, this thing we have made together with God – this is one of the greatest joys of my life. Right up there with my children and husband…and chocolate. I love, love, love, that this is what we get to do together with God!
But I also must tell you, starting a church takes everything you’ve got. I started two years and nine months ago – and I must confess that I am tired. More than anything, I am ready to take three months to remember that who I am is not what I do, but who I am is beloved. I am ready to remember my blessedness again.
Many have asked what I’ll do with my time. Here is some of what I’ve cooked up:
- Five days on solo retreat at Holden Village (www.holdenvillage.org)
- A week of family vacation at Holden Village
- Ten days of family vacation in Maine
- A week-long course at California Lutheran University: “Executive Skills for Pastors”
- Lists of possible home projects (The garage! Finally doing baby books!)
- A stack of books to read, like
- Richard Rohr, The Naked Now
- Brian McLaren, The Great Spiritual Migration: How the World’s Largest Religion is Seeking a New Way to Be Christian.
- J.P. Newell, The Rebirthing of God: Christianity's Struggle for New Beginning.
- A commitment to being as muddy as possible from adventures outside with our kids
- Disconnecting from my phone and email
And I’ll be back. From this season of ceasing I’ll be back to dive into all we’re becoming in this next season, responding to what God is leading us into, together. Make it a great summer, Salt House! Stay salty, friends.