Dear Redeemer family, A sabbatical is a magnificent gift of loving support. Heather and I are grateful. We are also thankful for our denomination that encourages churches to send their pastors on sabbaticals as a regular practice to sustain and deepen a lifetime of pastoral ministry. Thank you.
My hope is that my sabbatical will be a journey into beauty. My sabbatical will center on spiritual formation, deepening my own and increasing my skill in facilitating it in others. The jumping off point of my study will be the work of Jonathan Edwards. Edwards scholar Kyle Strobel explains that,
“Ultimately Edwards’ grasp of spiritual formation centers on the idea that God is beautiful and glorious, and he calls us to share in that beauty and glory. In Edwards, we find a vision of the Christian life that is deeply spiritual, beautiful and humanizing. It is a vision of losing one’s life to find it in Christ. It is a vision of the human heart captivated by God” (Stroble, Formed for the Glory of God, 15).
I plan to read widely regarding spiritual formation starting within the reformed tradition with Edwards, Calvin, and the Puritans, but also much outside our tradition from the ancient church to contemporary authors. However, my sabbatical will not be simply a time of study, but a time to engage new practices of spiritual formation, and most importantly a time of restful and lingering communion with God. I will be working with three experienced pastors and mentors with different expertise who will provide ongoing guidance and support.
For the last weeks of the sabbatical I will travel to Austin, TX, with my family to worship with and study two churches, All Saints and Redeemer. Both churches are in our denomination and follow a similar liturgy to our church, but with distinct musical styles, one leaning towards folk and bluegrass and the other classical baroque. I will meet with their music directors and pastors to explore their approach to liturgy, musical style, and how their worship aids the spiritual formation of their congregations.
My last Sunday at Redeemer will be May 10th and my last day in the office will be May 15th. I will be back in the office the week of August 17th with my first Sunday leading worship August 23rd and my first Sunday preaching September 6th. In the coming weeks you will receive another letter from Pastor Adam describing some of the plans for while I am gone including the preaching schedule.
When I come back to Redeemer in August I hope to return refreshed, and with experiences and knowledge that will increase my ability to lead us into a season of increased spiritual growth as we follow Christ in the renewal of all things.
I am so thankful for your support and prayers during this important time for my family and me. We are blessed.
David Juelfs Pastor