Our Shared Sabbatical Journey

This is excerpted from Rev. Kim’s sermon on December 15, 2019, her final Sunday sermon before her sabbatical. We gathered to celebrate our newest members and consider the gifts of shared ministry. You can read the entire sermon here.

For over half a decade, I have come to this place and to you. And within that time I have changed in spirit, in title, in theology. In these years together I became a parent, twice over. Gone from solo minister to supervising minister to senior minister. I have made mistakes and worked to forgive yours. I have celebrated joys – yours and mine. I have buried people we love, and dedicated children to the stars from which they came. I have officiated your marriages and cried with you when your partnerships have ended. Doubt and despair has overwhelmed me but the requirement to come to you with a different word than defeat has grown my soul at a speed faster than birth years could mark.

And now sabbatical. This gift and grace. An offering of time and energy. Amorphous things. Unholdable. And yet, still it feels so very tangible – even the idea of what Sabbatical may mean feels like a parental figure who has stopped me mid run through the living room, afraid I’m about to crash into the glass table. Sabbatical takes a minister by the shoulders, breathes, looks her in the eyes and says sternly and lovingly, “I want you to slow down.”

It is a gift and an expression of grace, that interruption for safekeeping. But let me remind you, if you have ever stopped a child mid run – do they say thank you? Do they say, oh good point mom! No. No of course they don’t! So I hope you can appreciate, that as I come to this odd moment of sabbatical, of slowing down, I rather resent it too.

“Staying away has never helped me through,” the reading said. “Rather, coming in closer, telling people about my spiritual crisis – listening, sharing, caring, and worshiping – have helped me know that this is where I belong, even when church is the source of my frustration and disappointment.” My speed, my depletion, I might add.

But now it is time for me to slow down. And it will be odd, hard, a sorrow some days, to do so without you. And still, a requirement, I realize, if I am to return to you any good.

This congregation, this ministry, is yours. It always has and it always will be. And sometimes, the gift of a minister stepping outside of the system for a bit, is that we all come to discover that the work of the church has always been yours to do and make real. Sometimes, the gift of a minister stepping out, is the joy in realizing the power that exists outside of one person, or a staff group, that has always been alive and thriving.

So for four months we will go on an adventure again. Different than six years ago when we said yes to one another for the first time, but still a commitment of sorts, and an expression of mutual trust, of ministry not yet realized, and of needing to work some things out.

Be good to another. Vigilantly. Tell one another about your crisis. Listen. Care. Worship and bring to this place the uncomfortable questions of what you are worshiping. Actively grow a sense of belonging.

Because we need one another. And staying away has never helped anyone. I for one, will look forward to my return.

Blessings on our shared sabbatical journey.