Thirty years ago this past Saturday, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off was released into theaters. I was sixteen years old, had just finished the 10th grade, and I can remember loving every minute of this movie. It starred Matthew Broderick as Ferris, a charismatic high school student who comes up with a sophisticated plan to play hooky from school and spend a day in Chicago with his best friend and his girlfriend. One of the fun things about this movie was the way it broke the “fourth wall,” a cinematic device where the characters ignore the imaginary “wall” that keeps the actors from the audience and talk directly to the audience. In the beginning of the movie (and again at the very end), Ferris talks to us about why he wants to take the day off from school, and this is what he says:
I have been thinking about this quote for a while now as I prepare for my sabbatical. My family and I leave on Thursday for six weeks of rest, renewal, and study. (In case you somehow missed hearing about this, you can read all about it.) I have been looking forward to the opportunity to stop and look around, to slow down, and to make sure life isn’t just passing me by. I have been in the ministry 21 years now, and I think I have about 21 years left in me. This is the perfect time for me to “stop and look around” for God’s voice and experience the renewal of the Holy Spirit as I prepare my heart and soul for the second half of my ministry. I am reminded of God’s command to us in Psalm 46:10: “Be still, and know that I am God!” I love the way that same verse is put in The Message: “Step out of the traffic! Take a long, loving look at me, your High God.” I am looking forward to stepping out of the traffic and taking a long, loving look at God this summer.
I am so thankful to the Church Council for granting my family and me this time of renewal. I can’t wait to see where God leads me during this time and how God will use me to lead our church for years to come upon my return. I am thankful for our Bishop here in the Arkansas Conference, Bishop Gary Mueller, for approving this time away and granting Rev. Dawn Spragg sacramental authority while I am gone. I am thankful for all our incredible staff who will be faithfully carrying on the work of ministry in my absence. I am confident they will lead you forward in Connecting People to Christ this summer, and I look forward to hearing the stories of how God worked in your lives while I was gone!
Finally, one last important word: This quote, and this concept of slowing down, is not just for me, and it’s not just applicable to sabbaticals. My prayer for you over the next six weeks is that you find ways to slow down, to look around and see God at work as you serve him by loving others. Life truly is short, and every day is a blessing. As we grieve over the senseless loss of life in Orlando this past weekend, we are reminded that every day is an opportunity to love rather than hate, to look around and care rather than look down and ignore, to seek justice and righteousness rather than prejudice and self-centeredness. Pray for me that I will live out a life of holiness and grace each day, and I will pray for you the same. God bless, and see you August 1st!