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Mike Claridge - 24th April 2012

Roundabout - May 2012

St Andrew's, West Bromwich

This is my last article for “Roundabout” for a few months. By the time you read this I’ll have just started three months Sabbatical, sometimes called Extended Study Leave.

The English word Sabbatical is derived from three languages. It’s come to us via Latin “sabbaticus”, from Greek “sabbatikos” and from Hebrew “shabbat”. It’s the same origin as the word Sabbath and literally means “ceasing”. A Sabbatical is an opportunity to withdraw from the normal cycle of work and explore issues of faith and vocation. It’s also a time of rest and reflection.

I’ll be doing two principle things in my time of Sabbatical.

As many of you will know I’m doing a sponsored bike ride for Christian Aid in late July so I’ll be using the next couple of months to gradually increase my distances for the thirty-five or so I’m already used to. The ride itself, from London to Paris, is over four days so that’ll mean about seventy miles a day.

The other task I’ll be undertaking is to continue some of the Genealogical work I’ve already done. Family Tree research always throws up an many questions as it answers and I’ve found a few of the former that I want to try and find the latter for! Researching your ancestry helps you to understand a little more about who you are.

Both of these, the bike ride and the family tree research, are in different ways journeys. One physical and geographical, the other into the past.

Time and time again in the scriptures we find people discovering God in new ways while on a physical journey. Four that come to mind immediately are Moses and the burning bush, the forty years the Hebrews spent journeying to the Promised Land, the forty days Jesus spent in the wilderness and the journey three disciples made with him up the Mount of Transfiguration. In addition the whole of Mark’s Gospel is constructed as a Journey to the Cross.

Knowing “where and who you come from” is important too. Both Matthew and Luke place Genealogies of Jesus towards the beginning of their Gospels. Throughout the scriptures there is also the reminder that God’s people are, whether by birth or faith, children of Abraham.

One of the resurrection appearances of Jesus, in Luke’s Gospel, also involves a journey. As they walked home, after the confusing events of the first Easter and while Jesus’ body was still believed “missing”, a couple were joined on the road by the risen Jesus. They didn’t recognise him as they talked with him. Only when they sat down, at rest, did they see in the breaking of bread who it was. They rushed back and and told the others who were still in Jerusalem.

When I rejoin you “back on duty” in August I hope that I’ll be able to share with you, as they did, new ways of encountering the Risen Lord.