My Sabbatical Task Force asked me to find or create a commissioning service for the end of worship my last Sunday before beginning the sabbatical journey. I went to the Facebook page for revgalblogpals and was thankful to find a post about such commissions by Cynthia J. Hallas, who shared hers with me. I inserted and adapted texts from the service of installation of church council members (from Evangelical Lutheran Worship) and from the Lilly Endowment’s resources. Notes on the service: Tammy and Steve are members of the Task Force and Vicar Mia has been our intern for eight months and will continue through the month of July.
Service of Commissioning for Sabbatical
Congregational parts in bold
Vicar Mia: People of God, by virtue of our baptism God calls us to mission and ministry, and to holy labor in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. At certain times, God also called us to occasions of sabbath rest and reflection so that we might be renewed for Christian service.
As we prepare to send Pastor Meggan forth on her sabbatical, we gather to ask God’s blessing upon her, and upon us as we ready ourselves for the weeks ahead.
Vicar Mia: God traces our journeys and resting places,
C: And is acquainted with all our ways.
Vicar Mia: God will preserve our going out and our coming in,
C: From this time forth and forevermore.
Vicar Mia: Let us pray. God of all wisdom send your blessing on our congregational community as we enter this time of our pastor’s sabbatical. Guide our leaders through challenges that may arise. Give to all of us discerning and prayerful hearts, spirits ready to understand and quick to forgive, ears to listen for your word, and voices to speak the truth. Make us bold to live out your Gospel as we seek to do your will. Amen.
Vicar Mia: Church Council Members, you have been chosen to seek to involve all members of this congregation in worship, learning, witness, service, and support, so that the mission of Christ is carried out in the congregation, in the wider church, in this community, and in the world. Will you continue to faithfully carry out the duties of the offices to which you have been called?
Council Members: We will, and we ask God to help us.
Tammy T: Pastor Meggan, are you ready to step away from the obligations of daily parish life and to engage in this period of sabbatical? Will you take time for reflection and renewal and rest in the life-giving experiences that await you?
Pr Meggan: I will, and I ask God to help me.
Tammy T: Members and friends of Trinity Lutheran Church, in this time of sabbatical, will you support your elected leaders, Vicar Mia, and Pastor John? Will you share in the mutual ministry that Christ has given to all who are baptized? Will you pray for them and for Pastor Meggan on her sabbatical journey?
C: We will, and we ask God to help us.
Leaders gather round for laying on of hands.
Steve V: God of all blessing, be with your servant Meggan as she undertakes her sabbatical journey. Grant her a holy departure from this community, safety in all her travels, rest and renewal for her spirit and body, and the joy of a grace-filled return. We ask these things in the name of the holy and undivided Trinity, one God. Amen.
Adapted from Cynthia J. Hallas’ Service of Commissioning for a Sabbatical 2001, ELW Occasional Services for Assembly, and 2019 Lilly Endowment National Clergy Renewal Program Guide.