Well I start my sabbatical on Sunday afternoon. I must say that I am very much looking forward to it.
The picture is of my last sabbatical in which I went with two friends Basil (pictured above and sadly deceased) and Ben to visit the Holy Land. It was a great time – full of fun and laughter and learning (Ben enjoyed picking up hitch-hikers carrying guns as well as becoming a leading expert on water cisterns. Basil was terribly nervous about anyone else driving and tried to give me an advanced driving course as well as being fascinated with all the people we met and everything that we experienced).
Sabbaticals are often seen as a slightly strange concept in today’s world. But they are a really important part in the life of clergy. There are still too many clergy that burnout and have little time to reflect. I was speaking with one the other day, desperate for one, but having ministered for 18 years without one and not able to take one until 2016! Part of this is the six day week and the hours that so many put in year after year. A sabbatical is a break from the routine. A chance to focus on God and to be refreshed.
So, what will I be up to?
Well my first week is what I have labelled “crash and burn” week! A chance to recuperate and relax.
Then I’m off to Turkey for 10 days or so to visit the 7 churches mentioned in the book of Revelation. In my last Sabbatical I visited the Holy Land and that was a very memorable experience and I wanted something similar this time. It is easy to forget that current day Turkey saw some of the earliest churches being established and for 1,000 years was the cradle of the Christian faith. The Apostle Paul was born in the town of Tarsus there, many of the early councils of the church were held in modern day Turkey. Indeed until about a century ago over 20% of Turkey was Christian but with persecution and expulsion that is now less than 1%.
After Turkey I am off for a one week retreat. These are always times I love – totally on my own reading and praying and walking. It always takes a few days to learn to still yourself from the busy-ness of life and to start really listening and hearing from God.
When I come back I am off around the country visiting a number of places that have also been given grants by the Archbishops Council to grow the church on estates. There are some fascinating places that I am hoping to visit and looking froward to learn from them to help all that we are doing. These are scattered all over England (though I am hoping to visit a cluster of them in the North West).
Finally I am going to be visiting the RUSH project in Kenya. This time I haven’t got any projects planned to do there – I am hoping to listen to peoples stories and hear all that they have to say.
So, I am very much looking forward to my sabbatical and the space and time and reflection.
I am also hoping to have more time to blog my way through some of these experiences – especially whilst in Turkey and the projects and RUSH.