This is the first Sunday of my sabbatical and it gives rise to some thoughts.
I've shared in many other settings that one of the things I was looking forward to in my sabbatical was NOT preaching. Now, don't get me wrong, I love preaching! I couldn't do what I do if I didn't. But you have to understand, when one is a preacher who preaches every week, one's life becomes a continuous search for sermonic material. Whenever I read something, hear something, remember something, see something, I'm always thinking how I might use that in a sermon! Every new insight, I file away for later use (as I get older, the ability to recall those things becomes more and more a challenge!). So I am looking forward to letting that go and just receiving. I get to hear other preachers preach, which doesn't happen that often in a live setting. I hope I am as receptive to other's preaching as I want others to be of mine (sort of the Preachers Golden Rule).
But old habits die hard. I am resisting the temptation to keep a list of "sermon possibilities" during my sabbatical. Although I need to have some plans in place when I return to active pastoring in September, I am going to put off thinking in those terms until the middle of August.
As I sit here in my living room at a time when I would normally already be at church preparing for the service and other events in the day, I am amazed at how much of a load has been released from me. It isn't just the preaching, while that is significant. It is also the mechanics of the service (who is doing what, whom I need to talk to in preparation, etc.)… all the "little things" as well. I suppose it is related to nervousness, although I haven't identified it as such for a long time. I am so used to it that it just felt like a subtle pressure to "perform" well for those who will be attending worship.
Since the fire we had in the Sanctuary we have added a lot of technology to the service. And since the burglary of all of that equipment a few weeks ago, I have been stressed by replacing it all before I left on sabbatical. Even now, I am wondering if the lens for the projector came in and got installed, and whether the media team will be ok after Steve leaves for his new ministry. I asked people not to contact me about this things, so I supposed I should just let it go. But it isn't easy when you are used to being engaged with all of it. Hmmmm. Maybe I need not be so engaged?