Dear Christ the Redeemer family,
I am glad to be back and am very much looking forward to this autumn, to what our Lord Jesus wants to do among and through us. As I come back I wanted to share some of the highlights of my sabbatical this past summer with you.
Sabbatical is about rest – a form of sabbath. I am delighted to say that this summer I rediscovered, as if finding a long-lost friend, the satisfaction of sleeping for eight hours or so most nights. Far from feeling that I’d lost time in the day, I actually felt more alive for each day. Along with that was the deep soul-satisfaction of consistent time in unhurried prayer.
Those two things alone are basically priceless, but I was blessed so far beyond that. Cheryl and I celebrated twenty-six years of marriage (which is also half my life and may be half of hers, but I would never reveal the age of a lady) with a European adventure. Three highlights were – first, being in Romania, in the Carpathian Mountains, visiting our long-time dear friends and CTR mission partners Dana and Brandi Bates and their children. From there we headed west to Budapest, Hungary where I lived in the early 1990s and around which I have wanted to show Cheryl for so long. Switzerland’s stunning beauty also deeply touched our souls.
Most of the time we were here on the North Shore. I am deeply grateful for time spent with each of our children and with all of us (make that six, including Toby, Sophie’s fiancé) together – a rare treat nowadays. I also had the opportunity to catch up with old friends and family in Maine and in North Carolina. Our house and barn are old: there’s a project for every summer. I had time on the bicycle, and time with good books.
Overall I have been deeply blessed and privileged to have had this summer sabbatical, and I am grateful to you, to our Vestry, to Bishops Bill and Andrew, and to the Lilly Endowment for its being possible. I am looking forward to getting back in the swing of things and to our life together in our Lord Jesus. In that vein, I wanted to share three quick things as well:
First, our province, the Anglican Church in North America had the next installment of our triennial assemblies this summer. The three key speakers were fantastic. You can watch their talks here, and they are well worth the time. I will be sharing these with our leadership, and they will be informing us in our on-going ministry.
Second, our Lord Jesus gave me the gift of sitting in contemplation and prayer at the foot of his Cross in a renewed depth this summer. May I commend to you the contemplation of our Lord Jesus upon the Cross, having gone voluntarily to bear our (mine, and yours) sin and shame? Just sit with him, focus as you are able on this, say thank you, and then simply be quiet and be with him there.
Finally, but important, I came to believe that we would be well served for the health of our souls and our love for our Lord Jesus if we give attention to how on his Cross he took on specifically shame for our sake. Shame is the product of our awareness – sometimes acute, sometimes vague– of our being other than we are meant to be, in whatever way. I became convinced this summer that shame is much more a cause of pain in our days than I, at least, had realized. We will give quite a bit of attention to this this autumn, walking through Paul’s book of Galatians and asking how he dealt with his shame and came to know freedom.
May Jesus Christ be praised,
Fr. Tim +