There’s a strong connection between Sabbath and sabbatical. I’m definitely taking advantage of both of those terms this summer. A sabbatical is a time of rest and reflection. Since my sabbatical conferences and readings are focused on worship and music, I’m experiencing a sabbatical doubled: the summer months of my sabbatical are great days to spend at worship conferences, reading books about worship, and visiting churches to worship with other congregations.
In mid-May I attended the National Worship Leader Conference in Centreville, Virginia. There were many outstanding workshops with great info to share in the coming months plus daily worship services and concerts led Julyby leaders in contemporary worship. Two more conferences are yet to come in late July in Dallas, Texas and Atlanta, Georgia.
Many books are in my daily plan: some books to read, written by theologians/musicians that help me look at “the big picture” of worship and how that relates to our Sundays at Zion. Other books contain music to practice. I’m experiencing what it’s like to take the role of student, remembering to practice as often as possible. I took pipe organ lessons during college years, but those skills have been put on the shelf for quite a few years. This summer sabbatical seemed like the perfect time for a little creativity by taking lessons from Catherine Rodland, artist in residence at St. Olaf College. As I practice, I appreciate the amount of music Diane Johnson presents every Sunday that creates a musical theme for the morning. Thanks Diane! I also have a new appreciation of what it’s like to remember to get those practice minutes in each day like many young piano, organ, band and orchestra students! Remember: practice on the days you eat; eat on the days you practice. It’s a great habit to develop. It’s great to say “I get to practice, instead of I have to practice.”
One of the biggest changes during this sabbatical is not heading to Zion each Sunday morning. I’m experiencing the life of a church visitor at small town, urban, suburban churches. I’m trying out weeknight worship, outdoor worship, contemporary and traditional. It’s something that I haven’t experienced in many years and it gives new appreciation for weekly worship with all of God’s people.
My thanks to all who are covering the weekly tasks while I’m away. I appreciate the Zion sabbatical policy that allows for this time of study and reflection. It truly gives staff a sabbath time that isn’t easy to find in the normal schedule.
See you in August!