I preach a few days after my sabbatical ends at the end of August. I was tempted to prepare this sermon before my sabbatical started, but I figured that I'd find something to preach during my sabbatical. I was right.
The emerging theme from my sabbatical so far has been Psalm 131.
O LORD, my heart is not lifted up;
my eyes are not raised too high;
I do not occupy myself with things
too great and too marvelous for me.
But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child is my soul within me.
O Israel, hope in the LORD
from this time forth and forevermore.
Before my sabbatical started, I was anything but what David describes in this passage. I'd begun to notice a restlessness and a lack of resiliency in my life.
My sabbatical has been a process of rediscovering what David describes in this simple psalm: learning humility and simplicity, and finding rest and contentment with the Lord.
I love the picture of a weaned child with its mother. A weaned child is not there for what he or she can get from the relationship, but for the joy of the relationship itself. I've begun to rediscover this with God. I've needed it.
There's been lots happening on my sabbatical, but at this heart of it is this psalm. I hope to learn its lessons even better in the month or so I have left.
I find this quote by Henri Nouwen challenging. It speaks to the kind of church I long for, and the risks it will take to get there:
I feel within me a strong desire to live life on my own. In fact, my society praises the self-made people who are in control of their destinies, set their own goals, fulfill their own aspirations, and build their own kingdoms. It is very hard for me to truly believe that spiritual maturity is a willingness to let others guide me...
And still, every time I am willing to break out of my false needs for self-sufficiency and dare to ask for help, a new community emerges - a fellowship of the weak - strong in the trust that together we can be a people of hope in a broken world...To receive help, support, guidance, affections, and care may well be a greater call than that of giving all these things because in receiving I reveal the gift to the givers and a new life together can begin. (Walk With Jesus)