Starting tomorrow, I’ll be on vacation through July 29. You’ll see me in worship both Sundays – but only because we prerecorded those services earlier this week.
I am grateful for the vacation time the congregation provides, and thankful to pastor a church that takes seriously its commitment to give its pastor time to relax, play, and recharge. I am grateful to be part of a denomination which requires congregations to include vacation and continuing education time in salary packages. I am grateful for this because I know that this is not true for many pastors.
I am particularly grateful because this summer I am tired – and I believe you are as well.
I’m tired of the coronavirus which no longer seems novel to me, and exhausted by all the weariness I see around me. We are wearied by disease, by isolation, by racism, division and so much more.
In these exhausting times, I have found new encouragement in the gentle invitation Jesus offers in Matthew 11. “Come to me,” Jesus says, “all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.”
This invitation to set aside the burdens imposed by the world is a welcomed word this summer, particularly for those who live in a culture averse to resting.
A survey by the travel industry in 2018 showed that Missouri ranks low in the United States for taking time off. On average, Missourians only used 18 of 24 vacation days, and only travelled on five of those. Not coincidentally, only 39% reported happiness with their health and well-being.
Some folks take that as a point of pride, but I do not believe that God would have required a Sabbath day if we were intended to never rest. Years ago, my spiritual director challenged me to consider the value of Sabbath, and pointed me toward the works of author Wayne Muller. His book Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal, and Delight in our Busy Lives is worth considering. I especially like this quote:
“When we live without listening to the timing of things, when we live and work in twenty-four-hour shifts without rest – we are on war time, mobilized for battle. Yes, we are strong and capable people, we can work without stopping, faster and faster, electric lights making artificial day so the whole machine can labor without ceasing. But remember: No living thing lives like this. There are greater rhythms, seasons and hormonal cycles and sunsets and moonrises and great movements of seas and stars. We are part of the creation story, subject to all its laws and rhythms.”
May you find time to rejoice in the gift of creation this summer! Give thanks that God has created you. It is my prayer that once we do come together again, we will celebrate the joyful good news of the Gospel that the yoke of Christ will renew our hearts.
Go and enjoy God’s creation — Chris