Rest and Renewal
Rest and Renewal
I've heard people say, "I'll see you when I see you" when taking leave of each other. What I've heard myself say with reasonable frequency is, "You don't see me – I'm not here," when stopping by the office to pick up materials to work on during a supposed day off.
Some cultures understand the need for rest better than ours here in the United States, and incorporate naptime into the structure of their workdays. Here, we seem to regard a need for rest as a weakness: "I can sleep when I'm dead!" could be our mission statement.
That cultural attitude is not biblical, though. The Bible clearly directs us, "For six days you shall labour and do all your work" (Exodus 20:9, NRSV) and even instructs us, "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God – what is good and acceptable and perfect." (Romans 12:2, NRSV).
It is time for me to renew both mind and body – and so it is that I am taking renewal leave at this time. The Council of Bishops is clear about encouraging bishops to do this, and recommends a three-month period of leave, every quadrennium. We are expected to step away from work, and fully engage in renewing activities. Should we choose to conduct business during our renewal leave (except in special circumstances), any expenses we incur are not reimbursable. And while flipping the "off" switch is not as easy as it sounds, I'm going to do my best.
I'm enjoying this time as an opportunity for study, time with my family, some recreational travel, and physical refreshment. While I'm away my extended Cabinet has authority to make decisions, and other bishops are on standby, should the Conference require an episcopal presence.
I hope that each of you will carve out a similar time, this summer, for physical rest and spiritual renewal, before the demands of a new church year lay claim to you again.
(And before you come after me for breaking faith with my covenant to rest and renew, let me assure you that this message was pre-written, before my leave began. As the folks on ESPN would say, I've gone fishin'!)