This fortnight's blog comes from our very own Rev Clare Stainsby, as she prepares to go on Sabbatical in the next few couple of weeks.
(This article was first published in 'The Bridge - May 2019' - The Patricroft Methodist Church Magazine.)
I remember very clearly my first week living in Irlam, when occasional visitors from the Circuit called in to say hello. We found them a space to sit among the boxes, and shared a cup of tea and some conversation. I also remember that one of those early visitors asked the question - “when is your next sabbatical?” It amused me greatly at the time. My previous sabbatical had taken place in the early months of 2012, and was still a vivid memory as I moved here in August 2015. Spring 2019 seemed an eternity away! But time has a habit of flying, but here we are in the spring of 2019, and that time is upon me.
I will conduct my last services on May 12th, at Patricroft in the morning and Monton in the evening, before disappearing for the summer. I remember facing my first sabbatical with some trepidation, reluctant to leave all the things I was involved in, and to be out of the loop. But I soon discovered what a wonderful and generous gift is the space to rest, reflect and do something different. This time, I look forward to this opportunity with none of the trepidation, though I know it will be strange to think of the world of the circuit rolling on without me.
I have a few plans for my time off. I intend to tackle the chaos that is my office, and also the outside storage space where I keep all my various props for worship. Both are in some disarray, and this will be an opportunity to declutter, and let go of the unnecessary accumulation of “stuff”. I also intend to visit family and friends, without the pressure of always having to think about “next Sunday”. I intend to read books, to work on some song ideas, and maybe learn to play the ukulele. I intend to transcribe my mother’s hand written recipes so that her family can once more enjoy meals we had in our childhood. I might try and keep on top of the garden, or I might just enjoy relaxing in it for a change. And I will also be conducting the wedding of my nephew Jack, to his fiancee Charlotte, which will be a great privilege.
The main focus of my time out of circuit will be to write about my philosophy of Café Worship, and the benefits I have seen in using this tool. I have created boxes of resources for café services, and I intend to put these into some format that others who use the model of worship might be able to adapt for their own use. I hope to visit other churches that worship café-style to gain new ideas and insights into what is possible. I have no idea as yet where this might take me.
One way or another, the next few months will be different, but far from idle. I will largely be living at home, but will not be answering phone or emails. Others will pick up any emergencies or problems. I know that all my churches will manage quite well without me, but Kim will be first port of call, should anything beyond the ordinary occur.
And I will re-emerge on Sunday August 19th, hopefully with renewed energy and strength.
So enjoy the summer, and may God bless you all, until we meet again.
May the road rise up to meet you; May the wind be always at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face; May the rain fall soft upon your fields. And until we meet again, may God hold you in the hollow of his hand.