Wednesday 25 November 2020

Take a Break, Justin

"Dear Archbishop, now is not the time to take a sabbatical", says Karen Armstrong in the Guardian. Which I guess is a Guardian-Religious equivalent of the constant calls during summer holidays for Parliament to be recalled. She tells us that next summer will be a bad time for Justin Welby to take some time off (thus misunderstanding the full purpose of sabbaticals, which includes study) and tells us that "Jesus could not retire to cultivate his personal spirituality because he was perpetually besieged by desperate people".

I mean, he was certainly, in many Bible passages, surrounded by people with assorted needs. It's true. Maybe that's why he went out into the desert for 40 days, to consider his ministry. Maybe that's why he spent a lot of time walking around Judea and Galilee, with just his disciples - I'm assuming that he got a fair amount of downtime in between villages with desperate people. Maybe that's why he set out on a boat to cross Galilee. And went out to quiet places to pray. And why, at the critical point in his earthly career, he went off to the Garden of Gethsemane. But in general - maybe there's more about when Jesus was surrounded by desperate people - because that's the interesting bit. "Jesus goes for a walk for a bit" is a bit less exciting than "Jesus throws pigs out of a bloke and they all drown."

Frankly, if the Archbishop of Canterbury doesn't have a break when he's due one - to study or write as well as rest - what example is he setting to everyone else? To the clergy who have spent the past 8 months, working in an alien environment to minister to their fellow-Christians, and who frankly need to ensure they get a break - after what will be a weird Christmas if not before? To people who work too hard, too long every day during the week? To a world that is obsessed with presenteeism, where so many people - even when they're on holiday - can't help dialling in to check where they need to get involved in their absence.

Most of all - turns out, if the Archbishop of Canterbury doesn't take a break - he's not even following in the footsteps of his master.

Go on, Justin. Have a break. It's what Jesus would do.

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1 comment :

  1. I think that it is essential to take a Sabbatical, even if it is taken at home. You need time and space to reflect in isolation and with some good books to read and to pray and see what God might be saying to you. I have managed to do this since March, with very little social interaction, apart from when my wife was recovering from a stroke, which concentrated my mind on prayers of intercession for her, for those treating and caring for her and for myself when she came home after four weeks in hospital. Now she is back to work two days a week, I can resume my Sabbatical every other day. But reading all of those books waiting to be read is presenting a challenge, but eventually, this year long sabbatical will allow it to happen. So, yes, Justin take some time and stop teling us what to do, allow our parishes some respite from yet another guidance, which restricts our ministry and is way OTT when compared to the looser government guidance.


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