Church, we have come a long way. We have lived through two years of a global pandemic that required us to change almost everything about the way we do church, then reassemble the changed parts and pieces of ourselves. We have loved well and lost much; we have boldly embraced change that we know will be hard. We made it through Lent and Eastertide, and now, halfway through the calendar year, it is summertime, a natural slowing down in the world of accomplishment.
A recent article published by Duke Divinity School’s Alban Institute, encouraged pastors, “As you reflect on what you want to accomplish in the second half of 2022, the beginning of summer is also a good time to perform a wellbeing check-in with yourself. How do you feel these days? What’s your mental, physical and emotional state of being? Are you practicing gratitude and appreciation? What are you doing to effectively relieve stress?”
These questions are not always part of our internal, annual dialogue. Asking them can seem self-centered or dredge up guilt for taking time away to ask these questions and mull over the responses. For some, they seem far removed from the immediate demands of daily bread. But this kind of rest is built into the rhythm of creation. For six days, God created, then on the seventh day, God rested. Sabbath was built into the Ten Commandments, and time and again, Jesus encouraged his disciples to rest, saying, “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.” God rested. Jesus needed rest, and so do we. Sometimes that rest is physical, other times it is emotional, mental or spiritual.
Years ago, Drew and I discovered the Maine coastline. I love the beach, and he loves the mountains. I want to sit in the sun, and he wants cool nights. Maine offers both in the same place. We discovered that I was pregnant with Ruth on our very first trip to Maine. Something about that place grounds us in who we are and whose we are. It stills the voices and helps clear out the clutter. When we lived in Philadelphia, it was an easier drive. It has been ten years since we last made the trip. This summer with the blessing of the Personnel Committee and the Session, we are taking a longer time away to rest. We will leave after worship this Sunday (6/12) and return around the 4th of July. While I am away, Lori, Anna, James and the church leadership will be here, continuing to tend to the needs of the congregation. Staff will have their own time away, but for now, my family and I are grateful for this gift of rest, something we do not take for granted. We are grateful for this community and the many ways we worship, work and support one another. We are really excited to head to Maine, and I know we will be ready to come home, rested, restored and ready for wherever the Spirit leads.
Most people have this kind of restorative place, sometimes it is as close as the backyard or a nearby park. For others that rest comes with a particular activity – cooking, hiking, reading, or going to a concert. Wherever or whatever it is, I encourage each of you to find a place of rest this summer, and I trust that in that rest, we will come home to ourselves and to God.
Be at peace,