June 2018 Reflection from the Rector
We are officially into the summer! This is a time characteristically set aside for relaxation, travel, and fun. These are all exciting endeavors in our lives, but have you considered how summer fun might be an important part of your spiritual formation?
On the first Sunday in June, our Old Testament lesson from Deuteronomy will remind us of the importance—no, commandment!—to observe a Sabbath. While Sabbath is different from relaxation, a Sabbath practice can certainly lead to the relaxing feeling of a more peaceful spirit. If we find ourselves trying to vacate from the cares of the world, we might ask ourselves if “being away” draws us closer to the presence of the Holy Spirit, which gives us the peace which passes all understanding. Sabbath is a time that we set aside to be spent with God in prayer, but that doesn’t mean prayer has to be drudgery. It is about setting our intentions toward God, which we can do through many activities. This summer, if you find yourself swimming, enjoying a shaded porch, or spending time with friends and family, consider how you might direct that activity toward worship and the nearer presence of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus modeled a life of travel, both for fun and for the purposes of his ministry. We know that in John 12, Jesus visited and had dinner with his friends Lazarus, Martha, and Mary. In this, it is revealed to us that Jesus most certainly traveled to spend time enjoying the presence of his friends. I think I preach my best sermons after a long drive alone, after at least 9 hours with only asphalt and a playlist to keep me company. There is something about that time alone that opens up a space for me to talk to God, and it is always a holy experience. Last summer, I went on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and to Scotland, both of which were ordered around prayer and a shared common life of discovery. That said, you don’t have to go to another country to go on pilgrimage. Pilgrimage, like Sabbath, is about setting your prayerful intentions toward looking for God’s presence, and toward listening for how God might be speaking into the journey of your life. This summer, if you travel, consider how those journeys enlighten and strengthen your faith.
While we may not think we explicitly hear about it in scripture, I believe that Jesus was fun. Last summer, I was able to visit his home, Capernaum, which is full of beauty with a nearby coastline. While he believed we should fish for people, I also have to believe that he enjoyed casting a line every now and then to simply catch fish. If not out fishing, I wonder if he thought up some of his famous parables while aimlessly floating in a boat out on the Sea of Galilee. He had many friends (having 12 close friends is a big deal!). He met many of his friends through his ministry, but they were his friends nonetheless. They lived in intimate community, and I have to believe that laughter was a part of their common bond, or else I can’t imagine that they would have spent the better part of 3 years together.
So this summer, if you find yourself yearning for or experiencing relaxation, travel, and fun, I encourage you to remember that these experiences were known to Jesus. It’s also important to remember that setting aside a time of the year for fun and travel isn’t possible for some people, and that it isn’t possible for many people in our larger Ada community. This is a time to not only enjoy ourselves, but to be thinking about how we can invite all people into a place of fun and relaxation just up the road: St. Luke’s. We may even find ourselves dreaming about ways that we can invite our neighbors for summer fun here, in our neighborhood, and in this holy place.
In all that we do, I ask that you hold Ada in your prayers. I believe that the Holy Spirit is doing something in this place, at this time, and that we are all called to be a part of it. May God show us the way to use our hands, our hearts, and our offering to show love to this hurting world!
Peace be with you,