Sabbatical #8: On Reentry

My sabbatical ended on August 7, when I returned on a Sunday morning in my most expected and recognizable role, as priest and preacher at Good Samaritan Episcopal Church. In truth, I had worked a little bit in my last week of sabbatical to prepare the worship bulletin and sermon before I arrived. Numerous people have asked me what it is like to be back to work, so here goes:

First, it was a joyous reunion with staff and church members. They wanted to know how my sabbatical had gone, and I realized that there was no way to summarize the three months quickly, so I shared a few stories and then realized there will be a series of discussions about this.

Second, it was disorienting. I walked into my unusually clean, orderly office and had to think about where my alb was hanging (in my office closet–DUH). Between the two services, I accidentally walked into the men’s restroom, which fortunately was unoccupied by any men. As I was looking at the various containers of wine and bread on the table we use to stage these elements for our Communion, I had to summon the altar guild chair and ask her which chalice was for what, etc. Only a year before, I had been teaching her these things. It was if I had forgotten some of the geography of my job as priest. Strange and funny. I hope I don’t feel lost in the forest next Sunday.

Third, I recognized that I didn’t want to jump into all the little details of my job on my first week back. I needed to connect with my staff and key leaders as people, and fortunately, they had all made a pact not to unload a ton of little details upon me on my first week back. They partially succeeded.

I love to work, and I always have. I have not loved every job equally, and I have found some roles and tasks more appealing than others in every job I have had. That’s to be expected. However, one thing I kept asking myself while on sabbatical is whether I need to be as busy at work as I have been in the past. Is everything we do necessary, something that God needs us to do to express the love of Christ to our members and community? Is there a way to retain some of that “I’m in no hurry” sabbatical energy in a vibrant church that wants to make a difference in its neighborhood?

When is busyness productive, and when is it counterproductive? And how does a pastor/minister/priest even measure productivity, when part of our job is to be still and pray, or to study the Bible just for the Bible’s sake?

As I journey together with my church in the next few months, I hope we will explore these questions together. Meanwhile, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

2 Thoughts

  1. Hi Janine! absolutely evoking questions you asked in your #8 journal entry. I am thinking perhaps these very same question can be asked and answered to each of us depending on ones role in the context of serving the Church. It is so helpful to ask people in the Church to practice looking inward for a bit of reflection on why and how our ministry is moving with the Holy Spirit. I can testify that unless brought to our attention a servant can get pretty low on spiritual energy in serving ther people for Christ. Thank you for sharing Janine. God’s Peace, Sr. Tina Francesca.

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