Easter 06: Sabbatical Farewell
by Tim Suttle
2017.05.21 – Easter 06
Sabbatical Farewell – Mt. 11:28-30
Every household has a hum, it’s like a frequency that just lives in the background… there’s a vibe, and underlying hum…
- And it serves as a basis for all the notes and melodies that the various members of the family learn to play.
- Every household has a hum.
Most of us grew up in some sort of household.
- My mom & dad had 4 kids in 6 years, and we lived together in a tiny little house on Edward Street in Salina, KS (about 900 sq. feet).
- 3 tiny bedrooms, 1 bathroom, we were right on top of each other.
- When I was 5 this placed burned nearly to the ground.
- This is the rebuilt version where we lived in a household filled w/music & singing, aunts & uncles, grandmas & grandpas.
- My parents were both public school teachers.
- My dad coached football & track.
- My mom played piano & organ at church....
- We only moved once as kid, to a nearly identical, only slightly larger house 2 blocks down on the same street. (PIC)
- It looks like they just gave the old house some miracle-grow.
- My parents still live there in that house… & our household had a hum.
For years I was part of a rolling household that we called Satellite Soul… a band of musicians who travelled and played about 200 days a year…. &:
- The location of this household (mostly) was a 15 passenger Ford van.
- We were crammed into that thing for so many hours, often w/out the luxury of a shower, so we took to calling it “The Petri Dish.”
- Every time somebody new came on tour with us they would get sick until their body built up immunity to whatever was living in that van!
- We put over 500k miles on that van, rolling from one gig to another,
- …laughing, talking, telling stories, becoming life-long friends.
- That household had its own hum … & it’s own smell… not good.
Easily my favorite household is where I live now w/Kristin, Nicholas, & Lewis.
- It’s a household filled with reading & stories, with games & music.
- Where we have long conversations re: politics & relationships & culture
- We watch movies & sitcoms together.
- We eat meals & take walks & play catch & do homework
- We dream & we mourn together, we fight & make-up together, we laugh & we cry together… all in this household that has its own hum.
And always… behind and underneath and around all that we do…
- In our coming and goings, our reading and talking…
- In our eating and playing and sleeping and schooling…
- There is a hum that is felt more primarily … than any explicit activity.
- And more than anything we consume, or teach, or participate in, that hum is constantly tuning the hearts of our boys..
- And the heart of Kristin … and the heart of me.
- The hum of our household tunes our hearts.
Every household has a hum & it functions almost like a film score… (guitar)
- It provides emotional background that you feel more than you hear.
- The hum of the household helps you evaluate what is going on.
- It’s foundational to everything that happens there.
- Some households have a hum like an E major chord.
- The lowest note the guitar can play… and it hums like an energy field.
- It acts and interacts with its members.
- It resonates & everyone in the household becomes attuned to that hum
And every so often, into that clear E major chord comes a note that changes the vibe… like a E#, and when it happens everybody notices… ugh!
- It sounds like death… listen to that … it cannot sound right!!!
- Into your household of respectful and peaceful relationships comes one of your kids’ friends who starts rapping like Kanye …
- And everyone perks up & says, “Something is wrong. This is out of tune. This isn’t the key we play in. This doesn’t belong in our chord.”
- & you immediately take steps to bring it down a half step back in tune
Some households have a discordant hum… disharmony… dissonance.
- Maybe everyone is too busy … schedules are too demanding.
- Maybe relationships are strained… somebody’s controlling.
- Maybe there have been all out breaches of trust, addictions…
- The household suffers from a lack of order & rhythm.
- It’s like everyone’s playing notes from a different scale.
And so, when someone drops an E# into that—no one really notices.
- And so all sorts of strange notes may creep in over time… harmful things that go unnoticed and so are not addressed or cared for.
- Things fall out of tune & there is no tonal center that draws everyone into resonance.
- And soon the whole hum of the household is on the fritz… it’s radio static… and that’s a kind of a hum as well.
Hum this note with me: Some households develop a sophisticated hum over time, it’s strong & solid… like you’re doing right now…
- And there is a freedom that comes with that.
- When households develop a strong hum, it can handle some tension.
- It has harmonic depth that gives freedom to play around…
- It can absorb all sorts of unexpected & improvised notes and turn them in something that works and fits.
- You can sing almost anything over the top of this…
- come thou fount… happy birthday… you shook me all night long… josie’s on a vacation far away—so come around and talk it over…
- I can do 80s songs for days… Oh… sweet child of mine.
Don’t stop humming… So in a household w/a strong hum to it, an unexpected guest pops in & this household has room for that frequency.
- Cancer, job loss, breakups, financial struggle … this household has a hum that can sustain everyone through that tension and pain.
- This household can transform even tragedy into a sound that everyone can inhabit … even the dreaded E#...
- that’s the power of a household that has a hum. (gtr)
Every household has a hum…
- Some have a loud hum, with joy & celebration.
- Some have a quiet hum, even fragile and reflective.
- Others have a persistent solid hum by which all the other melodies & harmonies can find a stable tune...
Every household has a hum...
- This hum includes the structure you sleep in, the land you have charge over, the neighbors that interact with you.
- The flow of traffic, the pace of life, the available light and dark…
- The schedules and activities you engage in… habits, rhythms…
PT: And your family, your household, lives with this persistent but interactive backdrop like the score of a movie. And this hum is not so much heard or seen as it is felt… it is perceived… & not always consciously. It’s just always there underneath everything… and in powerful ways that hum helps define everything that is seen and heard and experienced in the household.
Once, when Jesus was teaching he said this: Matthew 11:28-30 (MSG)
Jesus said, “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
I love this verse & have been using this week to try and prepare my heart for what’s coming my way over the next few months.
- Jesus says, are you tired & worn out?
- Anybody here tired? Raise your hand if you feel tired… Worn out?
- Jesus says, “are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion?”
- Anybody here been burned by religion in the past 10 yrs in some way?
- The he makes this offer…
- “Get away with me and you’ll recover your life.”
- There is something we are offered, in & thru a relationship with Jesus
- …. and it’s about recovery (salvage, rescue, repossession)…
- Whatever has us tired, worn out, burned out…
- Jesus is offering recovery … and not just any kind of recovery.
- “Get away with me,” he says, “& learn the unforced rhythms of grace.”
I love this phrase: The unforced Rhythms of grace.
- Have you ever thought about that before: Grace has a rhythm?
- Grace is hardwired into the rhythms of the world.
- They are unforced … you were given them when you were created.
- They live inside you & all around you….
- Feel your pulse … it has a rhythm… it is a grace… & this rhythm is all around us: breath, tides, seasons, morning & evening.
- Every living thing goes like this ~~~ it has rhythm!
- You know what goes like this ______ ? Dead stuff!
- Every living thing participates in—is animated by what Jesus called:
- The unforced Rhythms of grace.
- You were created in in the living, breathing, vibrating rhythms of grace.
Real quick I want to watch a video, where the great Bobby McFerrin demonstrates how this rhythm / hum is hardwired into our bodies…
Let’s watch this: PLAY
I love what he ways at the end about the pentatonic scale:
- It doesn’t matter what culture you are from, what language you speak;
- You were built to very quickly recognize this simple 5 note scale.
- You may have never done anything like that before, but anyone can take part in this song.
- And the reason it works is that something inside you is made to know how to do this!
- You can quickly attune your mind, your voice w/other human beings.
- There is a hum … & you are hardwired to attune your heart to the hum.
PT: This is how it works within these households we are a part of. Somewhere in there, if we’ll look for it, are these unforced Rhythms of Grace… & they can attune our hearts & we can do this w/out really having to think about it.
For EX: in my household we really value learning & education.
- But we hardly ever talk about the value of learning & education.
- We just learn things together … as a matter of course.
- We read books & do homework & go to museums & learn together.
- Learning is part of the hum of our household & our kids pick up on this.
In my household value women as full partners in the KOG, co-equals w/men.
- We don’t talk about it much.
- But for the past three years as Kristin has been in Graduate school, the boys have had to make some sacrifices …
- They had to eat my cooking a lot… (pretty big sacrifice).
- They had to put up w/me doing a bunch of jobs that mom usually does.
- The hum of our household changed to support Kristin as she went to school… and as it did…
- They learned that women’s dreams are just as important as men’s.
- That women can chase a profession & a family has to support mom just like they do dad.
PT: So when it comes time for them to set up their own household… they are going to know this in a deep down, soul-level place. It will be part of the hum of their households… and I think it’ll make them much better partners. And they learned this because that’s the hum of our household, and it’s attuning our heart
Now not every hum in a household is healthy… anger, anxiety, depression. Disunity, un-forgiveness… these things can dominate the hum. And everyone in the household picks up on those things… & they shape our souls… & so …
Jesus says, “Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.”
- These unforced Rhythms of Grace are all around us.
- They work on us almost w/out our knowing about them.
- And they can attune our hearts to God.
- We don’t have to do anything special except involve ourselves in the church where this hum lives & moves & works on us.
One of the metaphors we use for what it means to be the church is breathing.
- Church functions somewhat like the lungs do.
- Every week we are breathed in here together as a church.
- We’re breathed in like oxygen that sustains the life of the body of Christ
- Things like tithes & offerings, or volunteering time, or caring for one another are the oxygen that fuels the church.
- At the same time we receive all kinds of nutrients we need to survive.
- We receive teaching, prayer, wise counsel, a vision of the kingdom that comes only through scripture, community & the power of the Holy Spiri
- And then we’re sent off into the world to be salt and light, & to carry the life-sustaining presence of Christ to everyone around us.
- In our workplace, our neighborhoods, our friendships & family.
PT: There’s a rhythm to the life of the church … like a pair of lungs—breathing us in each Sunday to help us heal & be fortified, then to send us out for the life of the world. Then we’re back again the next week. It’s all part of this unforced rhythm of grace that sustains our lives & our communities. 6 days a week … 1…
Here’s where I’m going with all this: I am leaving on Sabbatical for the next four months… this is our last Sunday for most of the summer.
- And this could cause all kinds of worries & anxieties in a church.
- But Redemption is a Household of Faith… and this household has a hum, & this hum is strong and beautiful.
- Redemption lives with these lush, deep resonances of the KOG… the unforced rhythms of grace.
PT: And, it is one of the great joys of my life to be your pastor & to tend to the hum of this household, and to watch as it has grown rich & strong over the past decade and a half, to the point where:
The hum of our household has made a space for all kinds of different people.
- People on top of the world — people who are down & out.
- Blue-Blood American W.A.S.P.’s — immigrants w/out legal status.
- People who sing like angels — some who can’t carry a tune in a bucket.
- People who Live in mansions — who make home on the street.
- People of strong faith — shaken to its foundations… even crumbling.
- Young & Old — Black, White, and Brown.
- Republicans — Democrats believe or not, worshipping in peace & grace
- Because this household has that kind of hum.
- And it is the hum of peace… of shalom… of God reigning and ruling in our hearts & binding our hearts together as the people of God.
PT: And if you’ll take that seriously & live in fidelity to this body (especially when it gets hard & you get hurt), then everything you need to flourish is here. RC is not perfect (the perfect church does not exist) but it is a holy place… household.
So, it’s ok for your pastor to step out of helping to lead the song for awhile…
- ….and take a breather & rejuvenate his soul.
- And the hum of this household will keep right on going, because it doesn’t come from me, it comes from all of us.
- And ultimately it comes from the God who has created us w/a natural receptivity to the unforced rhythms of grace… & the truth is…
I really need a break. I’m tired-out from a long & beautiful season of ministry.
So much has happened the past 7 years…
- We went through a capital campaign & secured over a million dollars to find a new building.
- We bought this place, & renovated it.
- We dug into our neighborhood & started ESL, SFP, summer camps, homework help, makers clubs.
- We built a partnership w/Via de Esperanza w/whom we share our bldg.
- I’ve done a lot of writing… written 3 books & a ton of articles.
- We’ve had a lot of staffing & leadership changes over that time.
- Kristin has gone to graduate school… I mean it’s been a busy 7 years.
- And we need to get away for awhile & clear our heads & hearts.
And I can sort of hear Jesus calling to us: “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
I feel like I should also say, I’m not burned out, I’m really not. I love my job as your pastor more than I ever have, & I’m going to miss this place like crazy. I
- Seriously, it’s a dream to be your pastor.
- I am grateful every single day to get to do this job.
- But it takes a toll on me… & especially on Kristin & the boys.
- I need to give them my full attention for awhile.
- Sabbatical is a chance to walk with Jesus… to work with him.
- To learn again, the unforced rhythms of grace.
- I am so grateful to you for allowing me this opportunity … and…
Your job while I’m away is to tend to the hum of this household
- Pay attention to the rhythms of weekly worship.
- To keep on attuning your hearts to the unforced rhythms of Grace.
- Come to church!
- Be here every Sunday unless you have a really good reason to miss.
- Stick together… love each other…
- Show up with your offerings, your tithes, your gifts of service.
- Fortify this body with all it needs to survive.
- Soak in the word of God as you gather.
- Confess your sins, receive God’s grace.
- Sing songs of praise, pray the prayers of the people.
- Receive communion & let it attune your hearts to the rhythms of grace,
- And we’ll be back before you know it.
So: I would ask you to join me in praying for our church & this upcoming season of our life.