Today is Day One of my sabbatical and to quote Thomas (who is quoting the Office)… we are off like a herd of turtles. He has a little video clip on that theme coming up on his blog soon – it’s fun so you’ll have to check it out.  Our blogs and Twitters are the best way to keep up with us. I hope you’ll take time to dialog with us here. I think only Thomas has started blogging but Kaitlyn will be dropping in photos on hers, Caleb will surely be philosophizing on this somehow and Kristen will cover things from her viewpoint (which will surely be historically rich). Caleb and Kristen have lots of WWII sites mapped out on a tour we are doing next week – Normandy/Omaha Beach, Dachau Concentration Camp, Bastone, etc..

Here are my first couple Tweets in case you missed them:

  • Caleb’s German is coming back to him nicely. Except the part where we just bought 5lbs of swiss cheese from deli. #1/2lbFAIL
  • Fam/luggage made it to Zurich. Lots 2see and do. I’m like a dog who has to sniff my entire surroundings B4 doing what I’m here to do. #rest

Much prayer and planning has gone into these weeks – the plan is to be restored and refreshed. Not sure how to force that, but I have given much thought to how to position myself best for that to happen.

A verse that was given to me as a send off verse by Glen and Dianne Heynen will be my sabbatical theme verse.  It’s 1 Peter 5:10 – “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”

Seven important gems jump out at me as I read that verse.  So, I’m going to soak in those seven gems, one a week for the next seven weeks. No better place this first week to dive into the first –  the grace of God – than right here in the geographical ground zero of the Protestant Reformation. I just learned that tomorrow after church I will be given a private walking tour of the Zwingli sites in Zurich, including his church and his study, by a fellow in the church who does these tours for a living.

Those coaching me on this sabbatical reiterate it is not time off but time away so it needs to be stewarded well. Not being one who is accustomed to slowing down I’ve wondered how to do that – should I structure each day so they don’t fly-by wasted? Or, should I do nothing for two weeks and then reengage? Probably neither.

Most important, careful consideration has been given to what I read this summer. More on that later. For now I’ll just say I’m already 100 pages into a superb book on Ulrich Zwingli and the Swiss Reformation. It was written 200 years ago (in German) by J.H. Merle d’Aubigne. I have far more in common with Zwingli than Luther but I can’t wait to visit the sacred sites where these these guys were used by God to change the expression of Christianity for generations to come.

I’ll post some key insights as I go from these books. Next is a far tougher read on Zwingli that comes out of Cambridge University.  Then I’ll switch for a while to a few N.T. Wright books – I’ve been in the same room with him a few times and know of no one more solid – I can’t keep up with what he cranks out but I aim to try. I’m excited to get into his recent book where he pulls the rug out on our present misconceptions of heaven.

Church tomorrow for me is at the Powerhouse in Zurich. I’m speaking there, not tomorrow, but the two weeks thereafter.  But, as always, my heart is at CATG and we are praying God visits there tomorrow.  I’m told tomorrow’s service  here includes baptisms in the Lake of Zurich and we are supposed to bring swimming stuff (no joke – speedos are the norm for guys here, American men’s suits are frowned upon). I’m sure you’d see footage of it on CNN if I donned a speedo in public. Not to worry, as the kids say, modest is hottest.
Gute Nacht from Kandern, Germany – day one.  (FYI – You all back home are seven hours behind us here.)